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. Mike

    yea, CNN was Obama's supporter but CNN realized what a mistake they were gonna make supporting such a liar. Now CNN is on Hillary's side. Good for you CNN. We all make mistakes and it is nevre late to fix them. When America is going to relaize that electing Obama would be the biggest mistake ever, he has so much hate is his heart, I can not imagine what Obama could do with some power if he gets elected.

    March 17, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  2. An Agnostic Democrat

    This from the woman who marched in lockstep with Bush, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld until ... She started campaigning, then realized what the correct position was, turned on a dime (as she is so adept at doing) to change her position and start talking out of the other side of her mouth. We ain't buyin' the lyin' goods, Hillary!

    March 17, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  3. Jack

    Obama would send troops back to Iraq.... how is that getting us out of Iraq?

    March 17, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  4. Joe

    End a war that she helped start? I doubt that. The only way to get the US out of Iraq and still maintain any credibility in the world community is to elect a President who was opposed to the war from the start. That is Senator Obama.

    March 17, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  5. HomoSapien

    OK, I am confused.

    Hillary – do words matter or don't they matter?? I can't figure out by listening to you.

    Get the hell out of the race and give the Dems a chance to take the White House. We are SICK of you Clintons.

    March 17, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  6. Eyong Ebot,Lawrenceville,GA

    hillary,you don't give the president a blank check ,then act surprise when he catches it."I was against the for before I voted for it."how does that sound.

    March 17, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  7. Chewbacca

    What is Hillary's plan to end the war?

    Ron Paul is the only one that provided a plan during the debates that I remember.

    March 17, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  8. Cappi in SC

    Since she gave authorization that essentially started the war that is now approaching 4,000 lives claimed, she should fight to end it! But I don't believe a word she has to say – only that she will say anything to get nominated.

    I think first she should show us she is credible by disclosing her tax returns for the last 6 years, her earmarks for the last 6 years, and how her time was spent while in the White House. If she does this, then maybe we'll finally see what she has been so unwilling to show the American people. If there is nothing to hide, then we will start believing what she has to say!

    March 17, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  9. therealist

    The war is over. What is she going to do to win the peace? Why hasn't she been doing it for the last 5 years??

    March 17, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. dan

    Yes, she helped get us into this mess, I sure do expect her to do her part to get us out.

    She can ensure the senate does the right thing while Obama is president

    March 17, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  11. Independent in IA

    Yes, Obama opposed the war during the years he mentioned, however, when it actually came to doing something about it he totally abrogated his responsibility by either not being present to vote or voting 'present'. In other words, his 'words' mean absolutely nothing.

    March 17, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  12. Candi

    Hillary how can you end the war when you voted for it, or was you thinking about Bill that day. Why are you bashing Obama about he can't end the war. You can't end it either. Hillary you are saying things that you know has no meaning for you. Confused and not sure what the next move will be? Stop bashing Obama and maybe people will believe you okay.

    March 17, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. Marc

    Sorry, Hillary, but u have no credibility on this issue at all. You supported the war. Your supporters are naive and feeble minded, they actually believe u were against the war from the beginning. Stick a fork in Hillary, she done! She lied, lied. lied...Hillary is a liar!

    March 17, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  14. Lee From Treasure Island Florida

    Still waiting for her release of their Tax's, Donors list for Clinton Library, and her WhiteHouse Papers...that's the real story CNN.
    Her voting for the war in Iraq is well known, her support to use force in Iran is also well she is a flip flopper. But can we as tax payers please how honest she is? Please do your job as journalist and ask the hard questions.

    March 17, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  15. Independent

    Hillary, please provide me tax returns, donater lists to their charity, donater lists to the presidential library and earmarks so that Iam sure there will not be any additions to the litany of clinton scandals.

    March 17, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. Nobillary Andobama

    The only end this lady is qualified to talk about is the one where her head has been for the last few years.

    As wrong as it is to leave Iraq before they are able to comprehensively secure themselves, at least Borack's stance on the issue has been consistent. The same can not be said with the Billary.

    "HOPE" is not a method....only a nice sound bite

    March 17, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  17. Jason Ralicki

    Hillary Clinton HAS taken responsibility for her vote. That was especially clear in the last debate. Obama is still slinging that message around, that she has never taken responsibility for her vote and it is categorically untrue.

    It seems to me that Obama is the type of politician he says he dislikes so much. I'm just sick of Obama and all of his rhetoric.

    It is very strange for me to say this, because I have always voted democrat. But if Obama turns out to be the democratic nominee, I am going to vote McCain in the general election. It's really very sad, but I don't think Obama has enough experience to lead our nation. And McCain, at least, has a solid track record. I trust, and like him, much more than Obama.

    In the meantime, I am hoping and praying that Hillary makes it all the way to the top. I am always inspired by her intelligence and ideas. Go Hillary!

    March 17, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  18. laura, CA

    this candidate is making good use of this several week hiatus until the next primaries. obama's news is about green stickers and demanding tax returns.
    clinton's news is about the failing economy and the war, which is in direct relation to our economic woes.
    That's a presidential candidate whereas Obama is an inflammatory candidate. Clinton is taking action on what she knows. Where's Obama?

    March 17, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  19. Craig

    Hillary Clinton, Ready to mislead on any issue from day one.

    March 17, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  20. Independent

    Clintons are shameless. If they had had the presidential-material leadership in 2002 and been anti-war then, we would never have been in where we are today. They could not end the war then, how can we trust them to end the war now?

    If you have been opportunitistic in taking every political manoeuvre for reaching the presidency, now it's the time that you take the consequence.

    March 17, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  21. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    Hillary doesn't have the standing the slam anyone on the war. End of story.

    March 17, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  22. John P

    Obama has been consistent in his opposition to the war. Hillary on the other hand not only voted for the war she convinced the vast majority of democrats to vote for the war. Now she is opposed 6 years later. Hillary needs to step aside. She can't win this race statistically, if she stays in there will have to be a convention. She is losing, after all the states vote she will still be losing. For the unity of the party the Democrats need a leader. HILLARY STEP DOWN NOW.

    March 17, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  23. Leslie

    Senator Clinton is exactly right on this issue. There is a great article in the April edition of Commentary (available on the website as well), that takes a very close look at Obama's relationship to the war in Iraq. There was also a great op-ed in the Washington Post last week on Senator Obama's nebulous relationship with the war in Iraq.

    Suffiice it to say Obama has not been consistent on the war in Iraq and Senator Clinton is exactly right to say that his own position has commonly shifted with the ebbs and flows of political opinion in accordance with his own political ambition.

    I trust Hillary more to devise a reasonable strategy in withdrawing from Iraq. She has the experience on the Armed Services Committee in the Senate and has the support of many military leaders.

    March 17, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  24. Tom

    when are you people going to realize the Empty suit wasnt in the SENATE to vote for the war or against it??
    Wake up and smell the roses.

    Mr. Empty Suit is going down with the rest of this Brethren.

    March 17, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  25. Jeff - Plainfield, IL

    Hillary's 154 years of service in the Marine Corps prior to her 15 straight terms in the Senate are proof enough for me that she has both the experience and the judgeme-what? You're telling me she has, literally, the least experience of the 3 remaining candidates? Wow...that's really the only platform she has to run on (other than forced profit-feeding of health insurance companies).

    I really cannot imagine a world where Hillary Clinton would be the best equipped for anything, let alone ending a war. She was too weak to leave her husband when the whole world found out he was cheating on her. This does not make her a strong woman, it makes her a co-dependent, poor role-model anti-woman.

    March 17, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
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