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. E. PARRY

    Hillary after voting for the War in Iraq. You have not said you made a mistake. You also had the chance to take a different rout after knowing your mistake. You also started talking about ending the war when you started running for president. How can then ponit a Finger to Senator Obama. When you biting someones hand better be careful it might your own.

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

    Forgot to mention that I am from Pennsylvania and Hillary has too many wacky hormones. We have seen it in her speeches. The tears only came out because she was tired and running behind Obama.

    March 17, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  3. MickyD10

    Hillary always has, always does, and always will say what ever she thinks the people WANT to hear in order to get a vote. But then rarely if ever acts upon her promises later. There is always some excuse, some reason why she can't ever seem to do what she says she's going to do. It's always some right wing conspiracy or something for her. The prrof is in her record.

    Ask the good people of upstate New York, whom she promised jobs if they voted for her. Did she get them jobs?......No!! In fact many of those people have lost their homes and farms and are on food stamps right now. Most of her efforts went to the fat cats in the big cities. Her biggest claim that I know of is that she helped get 7,000 kids health insurance. Big deal. Obama got 155,000 kids insurance in Illinois.

    That's not to say Hillarry hasn't brought a lot of fed money to New York State. But knobody will probably ever know because she refuses to release her earmark information. And I just don't understand that. If she has in fact been doing good works for the citizens I'd think she'd want to disclose where all the money went, not hide it.

    March 17, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  4. Vig

    Clinton will end the war and more. If Obama gets elected we will have to deal with his bumbling excuses.

    March 17, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  5. AMK

    CC, Chicago....Obama pretty much did the same thing. Read up bud.

    March 17, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  6. sozzi

    There is a DOUBLE STANDARD in the MEDIA, everyone wants Obama to get tought with Hillary. But, what does the Media consider tough? If Mr. Obama talks down, and tough to Hillary, then the Media (especially, CNN) will say, why are you treating this woman bad.

    Why isn't the Media asking Hillary to release a list of her donors, NO they are to busy asking Obama why he has received these contributions from Rezko. All politicians receive monies/contributions from individuals who have or are being investigates for wrong doings, JUST ASK HILLARY.

    On Pastor Wright; why is it OK for the Conservative pastors to preach the same message as Mr. Wright? But, no Media coverage. Why, because it's the white man's country?

    March 17, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  7. Dale, Indianapolis

    So let me get this right, If Hillary has a scandal (or actually 15 years as she claims) then it's admirable for her to stay in politics. But if Obama's name is remotely attached to even one, the he should quit politics alltogether?? Okay, that sounds fair.

    So by saying that do I get to keep my "Hill-a-bot" green clover?

    March 17, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  8. Al

    Everyone talks about the candidates supporting funding the war after the initial vote. If they did not support funding the war, would it be over? No. The troops would just be there without the proper gear and the death toll would be much higher. The candidates were looking out for the troops. Thanks to all who supported funding the war.

    March 17, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  9. nmt

    hilary supporters, while you love your candidtaes so much, and will do anything for her to win...please explain to me how or why you continue to support her secrecy. Please try to do this without adding Obama this Obama that etc....lets maturely face this issue.....give me your real issues.......why do you support the fact that she has not released her taxes for 2006, ( we all know the 2007 taxes are atill in the process, no one has released those yet), 2005, 2004?..etc..
    yes, the campaign says that she has over twenty years taxes released, well she is over sixty, i wouls expect more than twenty years..
    so please explain to me...or address this issue so that i may understand ,Her earmarks? Her Library papers which she bases most of her qualified to lead on daY 1 claims on.......please ...edxplain....

    CNN, plaese i know you moderate everything for whatever reason..but why silence a huge portion of americans who want to understands this???? please print is noty a negative question at all...and anyway, Hilary cares about the votersd please fare

    March 17, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  10. jacmac

    Hey LeftNut,
    It is Obama that sings Coumbaya, not Hillary.
    Obama has been nothing but arrogant this whole campaign. Like the USA owes him this Presidency. He needs to go back to church and ask for guidance, and not the one he belongs to, a racist group pretending to be a church. Obama is finally being identified as the racist he is, him and his unhappy to be an American, wife.

    March 17, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  11. GirlTexas


    March 17, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  12. Boomer:White Female Supporter for Obama

    Nothing Clinton says can be taken as a possibility until she releases her tax returns, her earmarks and the donors to the Clinton library. All of it is just empty rhetoric. It appears that she has just come to realize the money and power given to private contractors...did she forget to read those bills and agreements too??

    The same goes for internal problems...which lobbyists have donated to her...what does she owe in favors??

    March 17, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  13. david

    Uh, I think she did take responsibility for it Barack. Weren't you listening at the debate when asked what she regretting most?

    Bunch of talk that Obama. No substance.

    We want the one that will deliver on her promises...HILLARY.


    March 17, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  14. maggie

    You go girl! We trust you to do what you say. Can't say as much for the other guy!

    HILLARY 08!!!

    March 17, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  15. MickyD10

    Go to youtube and watch "Hillary: the movie" there are nine segments, and It's long, but well worth the time.

    March 17, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  16. Mike Jones

    Hillary is dead in the water. She has to win 60% of the vote in the last 10 contests. Also no one is talking about her tax returns going public on 4/15/08. Roughly 1 week before Pennslyvania votes. Hillary is going down. Barack the vote!

    March 17, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  17. Kimmie

    How will she end the war with: Mr Peter Paul? What is she hiding?

    March 17, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  18. LJ

    Some say Hillary is taking the high road in not speaking of Obama's Rev. Wright situation. I think she's being as silent as a mouse because she doesn't want Obama hitting her with SCHIP ("6,000,000 children have health care because of me", Hillary words), not so according to a high ranking Washington politician who knows, or the fact that no bullets were flying over her head in Bosnia as she claimed or that her efforts at bringing peace to N. Ireland were just "silly" according to officials of that country. What a Liar! Her inexperience is showing, after all she is only a junior senator and previous first lady. The only thing she does well is give speeches, after all she suckered all of you.

    March 17, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. Nick

    Wow, Vickie.. See, I would want a president who could see past those half truthes and not buy into cheap lies in the first place..


    March 17, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  20. fred

    Better the audacity of Hillary, that the audacity of hope from a racist Obama!!!!


    March 17, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  21. SW-GA

    Ok.. And again I ask what experience does she have? Hillary is using her experience of being First Lady and meeting people as actual experience. Both her and McCain represent old politics.

    Tell me this....
    Why hasn't she released her tax records?

    What is she hiding..... Maybe she has taken money from the lobbyist or no telling who else.

    Obama is a good man and has brought a lot of people together. Has Hillary.... NO!!!

    March 17, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  22. Shane

    You go Hillary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I fought hard for you in Nevada and will fight hard to get you in the Oval Office. She voted for the war because at that time everyone believed Dictator Bush. Obama gave that speech but has not done anything. Remember, he is on a comittee for the war in Afghanistain and has not been to any meetings or voted on anything related to it. Very scary and he wants to be President. NOT this time. Maybe sometime later. Lets see how you do in the Senate first

    March 17, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  23. Adam

    Time to drop out Obama. Your 15 minutes are WAY over.

    March 17, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  24. Peter

    Yes, Senator Obama was against the War in Iraq at the beginning – when he was not in the U.S. Senate and did not have to cast a vote. How has he voted since being sworn in?

    Now that we are at war in Iraq, what is he going to do about it? He says he is going to withdraw our troops, but is he? His own adviser said no.

    What is President Obama going to do on January 21, 2009? Because the plan Candidate Obama has proposed is not realistic and if he is as honest as he pretends he is he will admit that it will not work on the timetable he claims.

    There is no doubt that Americans want an end to the war in Iraq. They do not want as Senator Obama implied, however he spins it, a withdrawal from Iraq followed by a redeployment.

    The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are real. It is where we go from here that matters and who is qualified to lead us. There is nothing in Senator Obama’s past or present to suggest he is that candidate.

    Peter S.

    March 17, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  25. Realistic

    Yes, she can end the War just like she negotiated peace in Northern Ireland. [ Roll Eyes ]

    March 17, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
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