March 17th, 2008
12:05 PM ET
10 years ago

Clinton says she is the only candidate who can end the war

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Hillary Clinton said in a speech Monday as president she would exercise the leadership needed to end the war in Iraq, something her rivals for the White House would not be able to accomplish.

“Senator Obama holds up his original opposition to the war on the campaign trail, but he didn't start working aggressively to end the war until he started running for president. So when he had a chance to act on his speech, he chose silence instead,” Clinton told an audience at George Washington University. “President Bush is determined to continue his failed policy in Iraq until he leaves office. And Senator McCain will gladly accept the torch and stay the course, keeping troops in Iraq for up to 100 years if necessary.”

Obama gave a speech in 2002 opposing the war in Iraq, an address he references often in his campaign stump speech. Clinton cited Obama’s repeated promise to start bringing “combat troops out in 16 months,” pointing to recent BBC interview by now-former Obama policy advisor Samantha Power in which Power said Obama “will, of course, not rely on some plan that he’s crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator.”

The Clinton campaign has highlighted those comments because of what they say is a contradiction between Obama's thetoric and action on Iraq.

“Senator Obama has said often that words matter. I strongly agree,” Clinton said. “But giving speeches alone won’t end the war and making campaign promises you might not keep certainly won’t end it. In the end the true test is not the speeches a president delivers, it’s whether the president delivers on the speeches.”At a campaign rally in Monaca, Pennsylvania Obama disagreed with Clinton’s assessment.

“I opposed this war in 2002, I opposed it in 2003, 4, 5, 6 and 7. I have been consistent in saying that we have to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. I have been clear this has been a strategic error – unlike Senator Clinton, who voted for this war and has never taken responsibility for that vote,” Obama said.Clinton also said both Bush and McCain want to keep the United States tied to Iraq’s “civil war, a war we cannot win. That, in a nutshell, is the Bush/McCain Iraq policy. Don’t learn from our mistakes, repeat them…We can have hundreds of thousands of troops on the ground for 100 years, but that will not change the fact that there is no military solution to the situation in Iraq.”

A McCain campaign spokeswoman said Clinton is trying to “score political points by mischaracterizing” Senator McCain’s statement about keeping troops in Iraq for one hundred years, and said the Arizona senator was talking about a post-war “military presence in Iraq should the Iraqi and U.S. governments determine it to be in their mutual interest.”

McCain, who is in Iraq today on a congressional trip, told CNN's John King that Clinton "obviously does not understand nor appreciate the progress that has been made on the ground. She told General Petraeus last year when he testified that she would have to suspend disbelief in order to believe that the surge is working.

Well, the surge is working."So I just think what that means is al Qaeda wins. They tell the world that. And we fight here again and around the Middle East. And their dedication is to follow us home. All I can say is that this will be a big issue in the election as we approach November because at least a growing number of Americans, though still frustrated and understandably so, believe that this strategy has succeeded," he added.

Clinton said she “applauded” the recent decrease in violence in Iraq but said the surge was intended to give the Iraqis breathing room to reach “political reconciliation,” something that has not happened in her assessment.In her speech, Clinton outlined a multi-step plan for ending the war, some of which she talks about frequently on the campaign trail.

In addition to starting troop withdrawal within 60 days of taking office, Clinton said as president she would urge the United Nations to act as a “neutral, honest broker” in reaching political agreements and also in helping to resettle millions of Iraqi refugees. She said she would work to remove armed private military contractors from Iraq and end black market sales of oil that goes to help the insurgency.

Clinton said troop withdrawal would “not mean retreating from fighting terrorism in Iraq” and that she would “order small, elite strike forces to engage in targeted operations against Al Qaeda in Iraq.”

–CNN Senior Political Producer Sasha Johnson
soundoff (279 Responses)
  1. barry

    “But giving speeches alone won’t end the war and making campaign promises you might not keep certainly won’t end it. In the end the true test is not the speeches a president delivers, it’s whether the president delivers on the speeches.”

    I'm sorry, has Hillary already won the presidential race and has been making presidential decisions for the last few months or something? She makes it seem as if she's already made good on the promises she's made in her boring speeches.

    Oh but her amazing foreign policy experience as the President's wife right? I'm pretty sure those have been debunked as exaggerations at best.

    March 17, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. sunny

    She voted for the very war that she now claims can only be ended by her. Yeah... that makes sense. Will the Clintons ever leave the political scene? Wonder if Vegas has that line in the near future...

    OBAMA '08

    March 17, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  3. Mark B

    ... and remind me again, who voted to authorize this war? I believe it was Mrs. Clinton.

    And who exercised judgment "not" to authorize this war? Believe that was Mr. Obama. Clearly, fully prepared to answer the phone at 3:00 am and to deliver the appropriate response.

    But Hillary, are you now "fully prepared" to release your tax returns, Bill's White House papers, and the New York State earmarks?

    March 17, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  4. C. Sharp

    . . .I watched Senator Clinton's speech on the war. She appeared bitter
    and reminiscent of the same old Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton, Bush
    policies. Divisive and accusatory. Getting the country nowhere. This is
    not someone that I want to turn on the television and see everyday. We need a fresh face, fresh ideas, and a fresh start. Senator Clinton is not the only one who can stop the war. Who is she kidding?

    Obama 08.

    March 17, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |

    She isn't the one for anything! she lies. She wants Obama to be second fiddle to her when he is winning the race, that has never happend before in this countries history when we were picking a new presdient, but lo and behold...the Clintons are trying to be slick, they think the presidency is their destiny, it should just be given to them becasue it is theirs!

    What a low life jerk! She is a piece of work alright, no Obama can win without her and she couldn't stop anything in her life.

    March 17, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  6. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    The old girl has gone delusional?

    She isn't even certain how it got started or for why?

    How can she possibly expect to end it?

    Wonder if we will add the term Commander-In-Chieftress–or just call her "your Majesty".

    March 17, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. Dee from Texas

    If Hilliary thinks she can win the presidency with all the trash she has dished out – she is crazy. I really would like for her to get the nomination so that the Republicans could dish her like she is dishing Obama.

    March 17, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  8. Bob, Lyons Oregon

    This woman will stoop to anything. She has a very high opinion of herself. She is behind in delagates, she is behind in popular vote, she is behind in states won, she is behind in campaign finance, other then she is getting alot of money from the establishment, pacs and lobbiests. She is not at all realistic.

    Go Obama.

    March 17, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  9. Rob, Minneapolis, MN

    The hypocrisy of Hillary Clinton knows no bounds.

    March 17, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  10. Karen

    Why is the media still talking about Senator Obama's pastor? I didn't watch any political coverage this weekend hoping to avoid this ridiculous story and it's the first thing I see after turning on the TV. Of all the issues we should be focusing on in this important campaign, why are we spending so much time on Obama's pastor!? I bet no one knows anything about the religious affiliation or pastors of Hillary Clinton and John McCain but we know all about Obama's pastor. Who cares? I haven't been to a single church where there wasn't something said or practiced that I don't believe in or support but that doesn't stop me from going because they are ALL like that. Let's stop highlighting the irrelevant statements of those who are not the candidates themselves and get back to focusing on them and their positions on issues that are important and relevant to the American people.

    March 17, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  11. Leah DiMarco, TX

    Give me a break – she voted FOR the war!!!

    The only thing Clinton has been doing is giving speeches!

    Enough with the lies and the spin Hillary it is time for you to GO HOME!

    March 17, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  12. PA

    You drove the truck into the ditch.

    Why should we believe you when you are refusing to release the White House records of the experiece that you claim to have?

    We are interviewing for the job of President and we are asking that you provide the papers so that we can see if you are honest.

    Please release the White House papers, your earmarks, your tax returns, and the donors to the Clinton Library.

    March 17, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. I used to be a Democrat

    I'm so glad I'm not a Democrat anymore. Both Hillary and Obama are total hippocrits. Their supporters are even worse.

    I rest easy at night knowing that neither Obama or Hillary will be President in 2009.

    March 17, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  14. Nattie Karma

    I am afraid Hillary and Bill should address their marriage issues. We do not want to start fighting another Monica battle.

    Go Obama

    March 17, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  15. Patriot

    She NEVER said she was sorry for her shameful vote on the war.

    And she only started speaking out against it when it became the cool thing to do, when polls showed in 2005 that a vast majority of Americans were against it.

    Her supporters never even mention the Iraq war on blogs or in conversation- they almost seem in denial that it is even going on.

    March 17, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  16. A. Harrison

    Well said Hillary.

    Hillary 2008!

    March 17, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  17. A. Harrison

    "Maynard", that's not ego, that's the strength and force we need to get things done in this Country and in the World.

    Speeches vs Solutions.

    Hillary 2008!

    March 17, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  18. Damian

    Hillary has a point. Obama was not in the Senate when the vote was put up. And he has not voted against funding it since he has been there. Obama also has not championed on any positions since he got into the Senate and has not come out as vocally against the war until he started to run for president. At least Hillary backs her positions.

    March 17, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  19. Bill

    I understand that the vote in 2002 was hijacked, Hillary voted to give a power to the president. Most members of Congress did this as a show of unity. None were prepared when W started the war machine. The vote on Iran was made after understanding that a similar vote had already started a war. Yeat Hillary voted yes again. As a veteran, I can not support anyone who is apparently fooled twice.

    March 17, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  20. Nattie Karma

    Well said Charlie,
    If Powers' comments were rejected and denounced, why should they become good to Hillary? Maybe she agrees with her words on her being a "monster"

    March 17, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  21. Rusty Myers

    I hope this is not what she meant! I learned long ago that when anyone tells me they are the only one who can accomplish something I'd better look for someone else to do the job. There is no magic and there is and will always be someone better at anything.

    March 17, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  22. Boomer:White Female Supporter for Obama

    CNN keeps repeating the out of context clips of Wright's speech. The press, if it's doing its job of reporting the news and not sensationalizing, should do a more intensive look at this man's history.

    March 17, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  23. tmd1104

    Hillary and Bill should just go down with the sinking ship like the rest of the rats. She can't win the nomination so she will do whatever it takes to steal it.

    March 17, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  24. Shirley, Silicon Valley, CA

    Hillary is not trustworthy! She say anything and do anything to get her personal victory. The war will end one way or another. She definitely is not the only one who can do it!

    Hillary has been so divisive and deceitful. She has been slash and burn on her trail. With her in politics, this country will be more divided and dysfunctional just like in the past so many years in Washington!

    March 17, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  25. David Snider

    The more I see this Woman, and the more I hear hear words.

    The more I want to puke!

    March 17, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
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