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. John B.

    What would you have him do Vickie? Cut off funding for the troups and leave them unsupported? Not very smart.

    March 17, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  2. John from Cape Cod

    Which experience exactly will Clinton use to end the War.
    Her experience in avoiding releasing her full tax returns.
    Her experience with Wal Mart?
    Her experience during her husbands Impeachment?

    Please enlighten us

    March 17, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  3. mike

    ITs amazing how much exaggeration and outright lies come out of Hillary and Bill's mouth. They have successfully lowered the level of discourse in this campaign from every angle possible. At some point the people of this country will wake up to the truth. Maybe it will be when the Paul Vs Clinton case comes to light in California. Maybe it will be when the Clinton's release the donors to their presidential library and we all discover the Oil money and pardoned felon's that fund them – I dont know....

    What I do know is that the next generation does not have to grow up with the untruthful, do anything political figures that currently run this country. It is a shame, and once again i've been Politics have turned me off.

    better luck next time, America

    March 17, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  4. Sara

    By Hook or by Crook, I demand to be President says Hillary.

    March 17, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  5. Tanya K

    Is our country ready for the kind of CHANGE Obama is speaking of? It has now become obvious he will lie, manipulate, and say what ever he thinks the public wants to here. I was unsure at first between him or Hillary, but wake up America his true colors are showing.

    March 17, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  6. David

    Rumsfield/Bush...Hillary...McCain, axis of evil, has started this war and will be the only group who has the EXPERIENCE to end it...

    Vote Hillary/ McCain please

    March 17, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  7. Michael

    Hillary, you have a plan and an excuse for everything.

    By your own admission, you DID NOT READ the report when you voted for the war, and you have the audacity to say that you are ready to lead on day one.

    Sure, Obama didn't have the opportunity to vote on the war. But the point is that if he could have voted, he would have at least read the report first. We need someone who at takes the time and effort to understand the issues BEFORE they make stupid decisions like Hillary has done.

    You are NOTready to lead on day one. America is sick of your lies, your mis-representations, your twisted half-truths, and your dirty tricks.

    It's clear to me that you will gladly ruin the Democratic party for your own personal gain.

    March 17, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  8. Jim Saxon

    It's the same old politics of half-truths, division and manipulation!

    March 17, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  9. manuel castells

    For Hillary to be credible on the Iraq war she must apologize for her 2003 vote and say explicitly it was a mistake, as John Edwards courageously did time ago. Anything else just follows the pattern of doing and saying whatever it takes to win – the only Clintons' "principle". This is the way to destroy her and the Democrats' chances in november.

    March 17, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  10. Jose

    Hillary is preparing Obama for the presidency by playing devil's advocate. Republicans don't stand a chance against Obama come the general election!!! Go Obama!!

    March 17, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  11. Annette

    Has anyone noticed how Hillary always acts if she is the only person who knows everything or can do anything? If she can do so much, why won't she release her tax returns NOW and the contributors to the Clinton libray? I know why......... and you know why.............
    Crooked politicians-Billary Clinton
    By the way, I am republican who will vote for Obama!!

    March 17, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  12. Henry - Florida

    Hillary Clinton has a plan that she has spelled out in detail. She gave a speech today in Washington that went into detail. Obama says one thing to us and his campaign says another in Europe.

    We are starting to see a little dirt behind the ears of your golden boy. I believe the tide is going to be turning.

    March 17, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |

    Here is the truth – Obama does not write and approve his ministers lessons each week. Educate yourselves about the black culture and oppression that HAS occurred and continues to occur. Get real Hilary is divisive, manipulative and will do anything and say anything to get to the Whitehouse. Obama brings hope and if people get all caught up in the media hype you will miss the real issues. Lets get back to the campaign!!!!!!!!!

    March 17, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  14. Lucy, Maryland

    Hillary refused to own up and acknowledge the fact that she voted to invade Iraq, and now she is only one who can end the war??? What a joke! It looks like politic is the Clinton’s favorite game. Hillary shouldn’t talk about the war, and being a commander in chief because it makes her look really bad. She is running for the highest office of the land, and yet she is the last person to file and release her tax records to the public. April 15th, is the last day of official filing taxes.

    March 17, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  15. Jen

    She stood on the floor of the Senate and said her vote for war was the hardest decision that she ever had to make, but she said she cast it “with conviction.” And while Senator Clinton now calls her vote for the “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq” a vote for diplomacy, there is no doubt that it was a vote for war.

    March 17, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  16. Celia Ann

    Queen Hillary is the only capable person to do anything. What are we thinking??? This is how it goes, Bush, Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush....and now it is her turn. On top of that she is Entitled.

    March 17, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  17. Obama Supporter

    I can't wait until the true story concerning the Clinton's tax record's come out into the open. All negative comments about Obama are going to be a thing of the past. It is truly sad how this country view "African-American" perspectives. Pastor Wright has his own views and it's nothing no one can do bout it.......that is his voice and experience. It's nothing wrong with Obama hearing voices of African-American's that grew up during very racial times. I am in my 40's as well.......and I have no problem listening to all types of people. That's why we need more diverse perspectives. White Americans seems afraid of this challenge. Let's work together so that we will not be so afraid of change .........because it is a new day.

    Obama '08

    March 17, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  18. Dave MN

    Clinton voted for the war - because she was duped? She's one of two esteemed senators from her state, she has the responsibility to NOT be duped, and she must take responsibility for her vote.

    She took a risk & lost - avoiding this issue now tells us exactly how she'd take responsibility in the Whitehouse. Poor judgment followed up by inability to own up to it. Is this the kind of president we want?

    March 17, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  19. Uncle Sam

    You are crazy to think that Hillary is the best candidate. Just ask yourself what has she accomplished. Just mentioned one single thing. Do not waste your time thinking because the answer is 0. You know well that Bill will be doing the work. She just want to make history by been the first woman elected president or the first former first lady becoming a president. She does not care about anything and her administration will be a disaster. Get real. OBAMA is the answer. Enough with the Clintons.

    March 17, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  20. Z

    Hillary, you are handing the Republicans the presidency on a silver platter.

    March 17, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  21. Nando, Florida


    March 17, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  22. NewbHillarySupporters

    hillary supporters are such irrational newbies

    March 17, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  23. Get Fair

    When you people are demanding for Hillary to release tax info etc, could you please be fair and also demand that Obama release ALL of his info, as well?


    March 17, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  24. Not convinced

    GO HILLARY! !!!!!!!!

    If Obama wins the nomination the Republicans will throw flip-flop at him just like they did to Kerry. He will be destroyed. In order to maintain what's left of his good name, he should drop out so he can get his stories straight for 2016.

    March 17, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  25. Mike D

    She'll end the war the same way she brought peace to northern ireland, by having tea with women's groups.

    March 17, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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