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. Pon Mao

    Now give me a break, if it was not for her vote, we probably would not be in this war at first place.

    March 17, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  2. Ron, Las Vegas

    So she will just end the war no matter what. Her statements are like that of Bush. She knows better than everyone else. She also has supported each funding bill of the war and voted for it. Does she know all the facts about Iraq and what the situation will be like in a year? At least Obama has the sense to say that he will end the war but his plans may have to change based on the circumstances when he becomes president and really finds out what is going on. Hillary did not know what was going on when she voted for the war and does not know what is going on now.

    March 17, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  3. Alice

    Hillary is lying through her teeth. She supported the war, voted for it, and did not voice any opposition until the polls went against it and when she had to garner left wing Democrat support. In my book that constitutes a poll reading, pandering weasel.

    Hillary, like her hubby, is without conviction.

    March 17, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  4. ShirleyY - Seattle

    Hillary stop lying regarding your credentials, how can you have 35 years of experience, first of all, your husband was President, not you.

    Hillary release your taxes, donors, earmarks and let's see how honest you are with the american people, you are a liar.

    Your husband will be President if you make it, hopefully he wont entertain anymore interns.

    March 17, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  5. Kenneth

    How she is going to end the war when she will never be President? She can't catch Obama on the delegate count. A big win in PA won't catch her up, and Obama will win the next two primaries after PA. The only way for her to get the nomination is to steal it, Bush style. If she steals it, a whole lot of Obama supporters will feel cheated and not show up to vote in November. At least Obama is in position to win the nomination straight-up, with no trickeration.

    March 17, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  6. Clintonfatigued

    Well put Mike from Arkansas.

    You could add in all of her spoken experience, has been DEBUNKED by the people that actually had something to do with it, point one would be the SCHIP bill, that she had NOTHING TO DO WITH, Northern Ireland peace talks agin NOTHING to do with, etc, etc.

    Busy cooking the books a bit before releasing Hillarity? Sorry, blaming Bush didn't work.

    Congratulations Democrats for grabbing defeat rom the jaws of victory.

    Two brutally flawed candidates while Biden, Richardson and Dodd were ignored, "you know" actual experience with "you know" actual page after page of RESULTS.

    Thank you so much.

    March 17, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  7. Lisa, Scranton

    Well, she was at least half right on this one. She is the only candidate, the only one that can release her records!! C'mon Hildabeast, time to come clean. Where you get your money from girlfriend?? If she won't tell, maybe Spitzer's bank can investigate her too? I'm just thinking.

    March 17, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  8. Rosa

    So let me get this right, Hillary.. since you voted to start the war only you can end it. Fairy tale land.. of course anyone who wants to end it can end it including Barack Obama.
    Hillary all this garbage from you and your henchwomen is hurting you.

    March 17, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  9. Ann

    She is the only dem. in the race to vote for the war..

    March 17, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  10. Don, San Francisco

    Really? The only one? I have to go back and check the Consitution, but I thought all Presidents are Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces and, as such, any of the candidates, if they won, are perfectly capable of ordering our troops out of Iraq.

    March 17, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. juan

    I think some of you are getting your opinions about Obama from the slanted media and from hillary's fat lying mouth.

    Obama clearly and convincinly answered all questions regarding so-called scandals about him. He is not a scandalous person. Hillary would love for everyone to think so because she is.

    People are not falling for the Clinton's devisive tactics of smearing the good guy all over blogs. That's how they like to win, by tearing the party apart and then acting like they never did anything wrong.

    We are on to it and not falling for it. OBAMA 08!

    March 17, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  12. Dem

    Let's not forget that most of American ALSO voted for the war!

    March 17, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  13. Anonymous


    March 17, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  14. NO Hillary

    With the remark from Clinton "I am the only one that can end the Iraq war" we see Clinton openly lying to people. Obama is also a candidate that will end the war, particularly, he was the one that never authorized the war and never wanted the war at the first place. Hillary needs to talk facts – not lies- we voters are not stupid. This is an insult on teh voters.

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

    Obama will talk to the insurgents and they will peacefully lay down their weapons and stop killing innocent civilians. Hillary will scare them to death and they will no longer be a threat to the peaceful Iraqui people. That is about as naive as it gets with these two.
    This war has been going on since the birth of Christ and the prophet Mohammed. This is an ideological war between Christians and Muslims that is now gone beyond ideology and into physical warfare.
    The way to finish it is not acceptable to civilized people which is what we claim to be. Yes, we need to bring our troops home, but it must be done as McCain suggests, otherwise we expose the people to continued warfare and Iran and Syria will occupy the land. If you think that the price of oil is high right now, wait until that happens. If you think that the killing will stop, you are wrong. More killings will take place in the Middle East until the Radical Muslims control the region.
    After that comes Europe, Asia and then the United States. That is their goal and nothing short of annihilation will stop the Radical Jihadists.

    March 17, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  16. Mike in Houston

    So Hillary's foreign policy can be summarized as turning everything over to the United Nations. I am sure that Hugo Chavez is pleased.

    March 17, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  17. Robert in Toronto,ON

    The reality is that in no thanks to the aides from both candidates they have done quite a disservice to the campaigns. A lot of slander and issues that Americans don't care about (ie race and/or gender) has put a blockade on what America is in need of: real solutions.

    I have no doubt that EITHER Sen. Obama or Sen. Clinton would be able to withdraw troops from Iraq when needed to – unlike Sen. McClain who would have the troops there for at least his term as President.

    That being said, I believe Obama would be better suited for a diplomatic solution whereas I could see Clinton wavering on her points and going by the political climate how it will suit her.

    March 17, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  18. Objective

    Obama says he opposed the war in 2003, 2004 etc. Actually, during the election campaign of 2004, when he supported John Kerry (who had supported the war), Obama's tune changed. He did not publicly contradict his party's candidate by opposing the war, and instead made positive comments in the media. His position on the war, as articulated by all his votes and public speeches, has varied over time. This is in contrast to Clinton, who initially favored the war and has grown increasingly skeptical. This is also in contrast to McCain, who always said that "enough troops" should be sent to ensure success and criticized early war strategies.

    March 17, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  19. La Bomb ba

    Obama takes whatever position the wind is blowing. McCain doesn't know when to quit. America is bankrupt not just recession. America is owned by foreign investors. China and Saudi won the War because they own America

    March 17, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  20. Wayne, Greenville TX

    Seems only fair – after all, she helped George W. Bush start it.....

    March 17, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  21. Alex H

    Hey Hillary, I see what you're saying. We shouldn't use new plans based on new evidence and points of views and stick to our past guns in terms of policy decisions.

    So I've got this plan that Harry Truman used with Japan that you'd be interested in... gimme a call we'll talk strategy. It worked back then so why won't it work now?

    ...Or we can be open minded when the time comes to take action.

    Oh and Samantha Powers is an Irish born woman. Don't you think she'd be supporting you if you were the one that brought peace to N. Ireland?

    March 17, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  22. tdo

    I can't wait till we see Obama on tv saying, "I did not have sex with that man, Larry sinclair." I hope larry was wearing a blue dress and saved it. lol

    March 17, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  23. Brad, Obamaha NE

    @ end of obama – fixed your post for ya

    Obama supporters=Informed followers that keep wininng.

    She is the only candidate who will destroy America and American image which has been spoiled for a long time.

    Barack is a better candidate. He knows what he is talking about. He is a fighter and a doer. Obama and their supporters are all winners. They keep winning.

    you're welcome

    March 17, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  24. Ben JI

    Hillary discloses PAST TAX RETURNS, EARMARK REQUESTS, ORIGINE OF FUNDS documents from your husband’s Presidential Library and the list of donors to the Library.

    Stop the speeches, DISCLOSE, RELEASE, and MAKE YOURSELF TRANSPARENT. This is not personal attacks, but it's part of solutions for America: transparency.

    Ben JI

    March 17, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  25. Adam Orlando Florida

    Bring home our troops Hillary!

    Hillary Clinton 2008!

    March 17, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
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