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. M. S. Indiana

    Remember a speech is just words... Her voting records say something else..

    March 17, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. CW in DC

    Who.....I'm confused here:

    “Senator Obama has said often that words matter. I strongly agree,” Clinton said.

    At first it was words/speeches don't matter. Hillary, are you toying with my emotions again?!

    March 17, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  3. Caroll

    Obama bores me. He is all talk and no substance. So is his pastor. They belong together, but, not in the White House.

    March 17, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. Stephanie

    Hillary just needs to withdraw now before the democrats lose the race to McCain. She is the one dividing us.

    March 17, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  5. Chuck

    Man, after Obama's pastor racist comments most of the Obama fans had nothing to say and now its back to bashing Hillary.
    She is the best person for the job and Obama need's to keep up the damage control.

    March 17, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  6. B

    Yes SHE Can!
    Say no to the Obamabots and think for yourself.

    Hillary is the most qualified candidate even if Obama's reverend doesn't think so. The Obama/Wright Campaign is doomed to fail.

    Hillary Clinton '08

    March 17, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  7. George

    Hillary will never give up she and her husband lie so much they even believe what they say .
    Just remember Hillary will get the nomination no matter what the people wish and then we will have more problems . What is she going to do if we get hit in the USA again ,Nothing like Bill did when the WTC got hit in 1993 ? or just start crying on TV .

    March 17, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  8. Video Guy

    She is not qualified. Being First Lady and having old Billy make a fool of you, does entitle you to be Commander-in-chief.

    March 17, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. Jay MN

    How doe she have the audacity to make these lofty claims and at the same time claim no one else could?

    March 17, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  10. jp/michigan

    Obama has flip/flopped on the Iraq war since 2002. Voicing against the war , was a political ploy to get into the US House of Representative, with failed. Dick Durbin got in the senate with his distaste for the war. From 2002 through 2008 , Obama states one thing and does another, voted to continue Bushes plank check for the war, now conveniently he is against it again. Obama seems to be a conventionally opportunistic politician. , who has put together a good political career and a terrific presidential campaign, but there is not much audacity of hope there. There is a calculation of ambition , construction of artifice , mixed in with a dash of deceit.

    March 17, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  11. Political Jonze

    Hillary will only end the war if her Dubai backers want it ended.

    March 17, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  12. mary from tn

    I cannot imagine 4 more years of this war with John McCain. Every day our country loses as we lose money & our soldiers. If this continues, we will be bankrupt like the Soviet Union. I believe that Hillary has the experience to help us safely get out of this.

    March 17, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  13. Jim

    Please Hillary............tell me what makes you qualified. You Clinton's have talked out of both sides of your mouth since Bill and your "Laurel and Hardy" act in the Governor's house in Arkansas. Nothing but drama, lies, sex, and corruption have followed you both since those days.

    March 17, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  14. Peg

    Hillary, so you expect "Us" to believe that you were agianst the war in 2002, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8; yet you voted to begin the war? Its just like you to tell a bold face lie and actually believe it and to get the American people to believe in this lie. If you have nothing to hide then release your earmarks and tax forms...Obama has, hes also busy on the campaign trail. Get your people, we all know you have them to put your taxes and earmarks together. Get with it Hillary's what she has been hiding behind.
    Obama 2008 for President!!

    March 17, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  15. Jen

    Blackwater USA's First Federal Contract Was In 1998 – Under The Clinton Administration. At a House committee hearing on private contractor oversight, Blackwater USA counsel Andrew Howell was asked when his company received its first government contract. Howell replied, "I believe that was 1998." Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) inquired, "And that was under the Clinton administration?" Howell responded, "Yes, sir." [House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Hearing Transcript, 2/7/07]

    March 17, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  16. End of Obama

    Obama supporters=Blind followers don't keep whining. Don't talk about what is History repeatedly. Obama was not even in senate. He is a lier. "He keeps saying that he voted against". We can always do overs.

    She is the only candidate who can bring America and American image back which has been spoiled for a long time. She is a better candidate. She knows what she is talking. She is a fighter and a doer. Obama and their supporters are all whiners. They keep whining.

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

    I wish Obama would shut his mouth with all the half truths. Anyone with an IQ of at least 10 knows that when the war was voted on, it was supported because of lies and half truths from the Bush Adminstration..They have WMDs , they are trying to buy Nuclear material etc. Why doesn't Obama admit that he has voted over and over to contunie supporting the war financially.

    Obama “will, of course, not rely on some plan that he’s crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator.”

    Enough said!!

    March 17, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  18. Dave ND

    I suppose the haeavens will open up, angels will sing, and the war will just suddenly be over.

    Please Obama, point out her hypocrisy here. Please!

    March 17, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  19. cc, Chicago

    And Hillary, with all due respect, is voting for starting the war and then funding it showing an ability to end it????

    March 17, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  20. Scott Cadwell

    “Senator Obama has said often that words matter. I strongly agree,” Clinton said.
    ...SINCE WHEN?! Wasn't your stance that speeches don't matter the basis of most of your attacks on him for the first part of this year? It is simply infuriating listening to this woman. She is the most duplicitous, conniving, and arrogant Democrat I've ever seen!

    March 17, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  21. edd

    In HILLARY we trust, be it be in Iraq War, Economy & Healthcare!

    It will be a big mistake if she looses this nomination, we need a strong candidate to lead us to progress again! We do not need a racist amateur with racist advisor who supported war in 2003, 2004, 2005.


    March 17, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  22. dj

    Hillary or Billary call it whatever you want..
    Hillary is the best Presidental canidate..
    And, she will win White House..
    Let's all just remember who Started this War.. UUUMMMMM
    that would be uuuuummmmmm bush uuuummmmmm..Wow sounds just him .. uuummmmm...

    Go Hillary!!!
    California Loves You!!!! and Bill..

    March 17, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  23. Jeff

    Hillary voted to authorize the use of force should diplomacy fail. Barack Obama gave a speech. His Illinois voting record looks like someone who plays dodgeball. Once he had his senate seat, he has voted exactly like Clinton. If he opposed the war so much, why vote the way he did? That doesn't sound like change we can believe in. He is not the anti war vote he would have you believe. There are those that believe Hillary was the Commander In Chief, The Weapons Inspector, the Secty of State, and the CIA. I wonder what people would have said about Hillary and being the Senator that represents NYC had Sadam actually had the WMD and deployed it in the middle of the city. Thank God, we probably wont ever know.

    March 17, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  24. Jen


    Clinton Claimed That She Didn't Know About A Provision That Gave Blackwater Immunity >From Prosecution In Iraq Because Of An Exemption After The US Invasion. "Clinton was asked about a statement she made… when criticizing the Bush administration's conduct in Iraq. She said she hadn't known that Blackwater USA, the military contractor accused of killing more than a dozen Iraqi civilians last month, had immunity from prosecution in Iraq because of an exemption approved soon after the US invasion. 'Maybe I should have known about it; I did not know about it,' she said." [Boston Globe, 10/11/07]

    March 17, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  25. Corey

    I'm don't think she's capable of ending the war anymore than any other candidate redeployment is a larger undertaking than deployment. YOU GUYS WHO ARE SO STUCK ON HILLARY AND/OR OBAMA NEED TO CUT IT OUT!!!! In the end, whether it's Hillary or Barack, you need to support your Democratic candidate and stopped acting like spoiled children. The future of this country, of this world is far more important than your foolish rantings and line drawings and pointless fighting on candidates. In the end their politics are a whole lot more similar than they are different. It's like choosing between Coke and Pepsi. Stop it guys and look at the bigger picture!!!!!

    March 17, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
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