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. Ron

    Barack is the wisest of the remaining three presidential contenders and has the best, practical chance to win bring an end to an untennable, unwinnable costly misatke!

    March 17, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  2. M.

    Clinton isn't the only candidate who can end the war and she knows it ...Obama will end it and the difference between them is that he had no part in starting it.

    March 17, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  3. cynthia

    Barack Obama still has my vote. I wouldn't vote for Hillary Clinton if she was the last woman on earth. She couldn't even run her darn household. Go OBAMA!! 08

    March 17, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  4. Independent

    The former GOP senator, the only GOP who voted against Iraqi war, called Clinton the Bush war's "enabler." Read it yourself on Fox News online now.

    March 17, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  5. mary

    I don't trust Obama to run this country. He saids one thing and does another. If he would have been in the Senate he would have voted for the war too, just like every other American. He keeps bringing up the same thing ((I was against the war)) over and over. We are past that point! We have to fix the problem now and I just don't trust him now that I know who his friends are. You pick your friends by the similaries that you each have in common!

    March 17, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  6. Give Me A Break!!

    With all due respect to Hillary Clinton (I voted for her husband). I really believe she will say anything or do anything to win! She plays the old school game of politics of distraction! They are pushing her to release her tax returns and earmarks and she comes out with this shallow rhetoric to distract everyone from that fact. Keep the right hand moving fast so no one looks at the left hand.

    This is the kind of tired old politics that Obama wants to change! It's that time and the Clinton watch has run out...!

    March 17, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  7. Sam

    How about a joint ticket of McCain & Billery to run Irag?

    March 17, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  8. MikenMississippi

    Okay people least we forgot..the nation as a whole was supportive at first of the war..don't we remember the yellow ribbons and all the American flags flying after 911? It was the nations sentiment that we go to war to keep America safe! Why did Obama feel that we should not be at war when all of America (or that's the way it seemed) was for bombing the bad guys who hurt Americans on our own soil? That's the real question we should be asking!

    March 17, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  9. Joy Hussien

    Hillary's next book title wil be "The HILLARY Delusion".

    March 17, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  10. SF KID

    Clinton didn't just vote for the Iraq war and refuse to apologize for it, she voted to give Bush the same authority on Iran.

    March 17, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  11. Debra

    It looks like Obama supporters can not stop playing the Hillary hate game. Too bad. They are extremly troubled people who are the most paranoid people I have ever heard. Makes me think they are only posers trying to pose as Obama supporters but really Republicans trying to stir the pot. As long as our Democratic candidates are tied up in all the tiny issues they can not deal with the important issues in this campaign. Stop it Posers- I see you for who you really are- just a bunch of Republicans trying to stir the pot!

    March 17, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  12. karen from VA

    Hillary is a competent Senator who got lots of money for New York, but she has proven that she is given to hyperbole, near hysteria and secrecy. The half-lies and secrecy of the current administration got us into this mess in the first place, and are we stupid enough to elect someone who won't release her logs as First Lady, won't release her earmarks or tax returns? if you want more of the same old deception, Her Royal Clinton is a great way to go.

    March 17, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  13. HC

    CNN who won Texas? THe whole thing together!
    and when will there be another debate on real issues?

    March 17, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  14. Rosalynd

    Yea right Hilary, and I got bridge to sell you!

    March 17, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  15. Rosalynd

    Yea right Hilary, and I got a bridge to sell you!

    March 17, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  16. john s

    Both of these candidates will withdraw from Iraq with no worry about what happens to the country, the Middle East, and the exporting of terorrism from Iran. If Iraq becomes totally unstable and under the influence of Iran, it will eventually lead to a destablization of the region and continuous export of terrorism, and possibly endanger the source of world oil. Iran's president would love to become the world controlloer of oil. We need to keep Iraq stable until the cooler heads in Iran can come to the realization that Iran will be a pariah until it gives up its' nuclear program, stops exporting terrorism and gets rid of their nutty president.

    March 17, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  17. Deann

    I think she will end the war, and turning our economic back to the right track, she is the only one has this ability to do well for the job.

    March 17, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  18. Sara

    Please, make these Clintons go away. Their time has come and gone.

    March 17, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  19. Mike

    Well seeing Obama earmarked $8 million dollars to his campaign finance supporter and board of director of General Dynamics for ammo used in the bradley fighting vehicle for the Iraq war, I would say Hillary is the only one going to stop the war. My family who are Iraq and gulf war vets say the ammo Obama earmarked for is already out of date. Obviously just a financial and political move on his part.

    March 17, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  20. Sara

    How ironic, coming from someone who voted for the war. OBAMA 08'

    March 17, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  21. Angelo

    Sorry, I prefer having someone else clean up the mess left by those who voted for the war. The way I see it, if you had bad judgment in going into the war then you will have bad judgment creating a plan to get out of the war.

    Plus its scary to know that Hillary didn’t even read the documents leading up to the vote of the Iraq war!

    March 17, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  22. Diane, Buffalo, Wy.

    Are we talking about the same Sen. Clinton that voted for the war and then a few years later said had I but known? Yep that's the one. The same person who won't release taxes, has inflated her foreign policy experience, and won't release earmarks. The person who claims that she has been "vetted" Give me a break. We have had enough of the Clinton/ Bush era. We need some a breath of fresh air in Washington.
    We need someone who is willing to dig in and really attempt to make a change. If Sen Clinton is elected it will wind up being same old stuff, different day.

    March 17, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  23. Carol Myers

    Lucy, Maryland to you I say Where is Obama's Senate records?
    Carol Oh.

    March 17, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  24. Patrick Anthony Drake


    March 17, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  25. Henry - Florida

    Hillary Clinton did not vote to invade Iraq. She voted to give power to the president. Most members of Congress did this as a show of unity.

    I'm really shocked at how little most Obama supporters really know about the issues. You treat this campaign like you're voting for the next American Idol.

    March 17, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
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