April 8th, 2008
03:10 PM ET
7 years ago

Levin: Iraq hearings mostly avoided politics

Levin says presidential politics were ‘kept to a minimum’ Tuesday, despite the presence of the major candidates.
Levin says presidential politics were ‘kept to a minimum’ Tuesday, despite the presence of the major candidates.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin says he accomplished what many would consider a tall task: Keeping presidential politics to a minimum during today’s hearings on the Iraq War.

General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq were the crucial witnesses in today’s hearing. But with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain of Arizona, and one of the two remaining Democratic presidential candidates, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York in attendance, it was hard to avoid the specter of the campaign trail.

Levin, commenting on the hearings after they concluded, said “the tone of it was right and I saw a minimum amount of presidential politics. I know that there is an understandable focus because Senators Clinton and McCain were there. But I thought that people went really to the substance and avoided politicizing this hearing in any way and I hope that’s the way it appeared to the public because that’s clearly what we intended.”

Petraeus and Crocker are now testifying in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, home of another of the White House hopefuls, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.

Related: Watch Jamie McIyntre's fact check on the hearing

soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Now we know

    The reason most news agencies won't report anything bad about Obama, even the truth, is because lots of them are getting death threats if they do.

    It's not just that they are against Hillary, they are afraid to say anything else

    April 8, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  2. debbie

    support the olympics. I understand everything that is going on. Just support the olympics. Why should we stress out the participants. Everybody uses the olympics to push their agendas. Just let the men and women compete in some peace. Come on People........

    April 8, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  3. Scott, Minneapolis, MN

    I wonder why B.O. wan't at the hearing?

    April 8, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  4. Will

    The Olympics is for the world not the athletes. That's why the competitors represent nations.....

    As for Levin, he didn't need the Democrats helping them. He tore them up in the very begining.

    April 8, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  5. s.b.

    Gee! Obama finally decided to convene a meeting, 16 months after being named the chair of this committee which oversees NATO, when the US is at war in Afghanistan on a NATO mission.

    Glad the junior senator from Illinois could finally make some room in his schedule to do his job.

    April 8, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  6. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Not actually having a chance to hear the hearings, did anyone ask about the Iraqi government and what the have/haven't done? Was there a response to those questions? Did either candidate on this committee ask about time lines for various construction and governmental projects (schools, local and regional elections) and their progress to making Iraq more "stable" (such as an Arab country can be)? I hope so because if no one on the committee asked any of these questions, then we need to reevaluate who is in Congress.

    April 8, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  7. J. McCaskill, MS

    Where was Obama doing this very important hearing. If judgment is so important, why was he not in attendance to ask the tough questions. Same broken record.

    Hillary/McCain '08'

    April 8, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  8. MD

    Our presence in Iraq is only to protect our interests in their oil. The Iraqis know this, and that is why they are fighting us so hard.

    The British and the Americans went to bed together and came out producing an evil and self-serving plan to control the Iraqi oil fields.

    This is a dog and pony show. Petraeus read from a prepared statement. He is not there to listen to anyone. This a photo op and a chance for grandstanding. Tomorrow, all will be back to "normal," and the failed foreign policies will continue.

    April 8, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  9. Key West Sun

    Well if he keep out presidential politics that is a good start,,,, now lets get politics of any kind out of this war and work to get it over and done as quickly as safely possible.

    April 8, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  10. Fernandez

    Did anyone ask the commander what would happen if we pulled out of Iraq?
    Where was Obama "missing in action"

    April 8, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  11. Penn State

    Obama is no match for General Petraeus!!! What is Obama going to say to him, "Thats why I opposed this war in the beginning!!" This will not help you in this meeting Obama. Hillary Clinton has always been against General Petraeus. General Petraeus feels that your plan sucks!!

    April 8, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  12. Joe

    General Petraeus is a fine American who has done a great job. Especially with the terrible mess that the Axis of Idiots, Bush, Chenney and Rumsfeld, have put Iraq in. Still, it is time to elect the man with the foresight to vote against this wastefull war and will put an end to it.

    April 8, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  13. Willy

    Mr. Comb over is back.

    April 8, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  14. North Carolina

    Senator Clinton's questions were very good. I wish you would print them/ give a link.

    April 8, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  15. Mo

    Sen. Levin, it is impossible for me to believe that the Democrats are serious about national security when they allow flakes like "Code Pink" into a serious discussion about the progress of Iraq.

    Just look at the candidates the Dems are putting up before the American people. One is a political switchback who says whatever to endear herself to whatever audience she is performing in front of, and the other says that we only need to talk to our antagonists.

    Yeah, President No-Bama is gonna save us all.

    April 8, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. ***AMERICAN***

    It is nice to see the candidates can be civil with each other. Now we just need their supporters to follow suit.

    April 8, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  17. Chuck in Oregon

    You cant keep politics out of this war. It stinks of politics from the git go and continues to stink of it.

    April 8, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  18. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    This administration and it's followers are hell bent on war. The money that's being flushed down the toilet in Iraq would better be spent on science and technology in this country, that's where we aren't winning globally. John McCain will keep us on the same destructive path because he will continue the same agenda. He's too old to be innovative to bring our country forward, only backwards.

    April 8, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  19. Mike in Houston

    It was pure political grandstanding on the part of the democrats, who need the US to lose in Iraq so that they can gain political points here.

    April 8, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  20. CY from a non democratic country

    Chudi April 8th, 2008 3:47 pm ET

    Clintonites and Obamanians! MUST READ! Its the republicans that are posting and pretending to be Obamanians/Clinotonites to drive us mad against each other.

    YES both Obama and Clinton sides have been battling each other but the most divisive and rude statements come from the republicans! We've been had DEMOCRATS! Check out the links.

    THIS MEANS WAR! Smarten up democrats.

    Please google this "Republicans bloggers posing as democrats on blogs".

    April 8, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  21. Chris

    I was able to watch the hearings and I saw both Hillary and Obama. I was amazed at how well prepared and how well spoken Hillary was. She was so strong in her questioning and really knew her stuff. Obama on the other hand was surprisingly amateur. He looked like he was riding a bicycle for the first time. I was sort of disappointed given his stump speeches. He stammers a lot and he couldn't really clarify what he was trying to say.

    April 8, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  22. Sandy in Ohio

    Just finished watching Obama question the general. Obama was pathetic. He couldn't seem to phrase his questions properly and appeared to be falling asleep. This is the person you want to make monumental decisions for this country??? Heaven help us all!!!

    April 8, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  23. Elisabeth

    Barack Obama today (during the Foreign Relations HRG) asked if "status quo" in Irak would be a "success enough". This is one of the most stupid question that I have ever heard! If USA should leave Irak now it would have been chaos in the country and maybe the whole Middle East within only a couple of months. This man is really naive. He also seems to be accepting to hand over the power to Iran..... Hillary Clinton has always been talking about leaving Irak in a responsible way. That`s a realistic vision.

    April 8, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  24. scott

    Just watched Bo get to talk to the General.
    Must say he looked and sounded like a rookie.
    McCain sounded like he always does
    Hillary was very impressive seeming to know and say things on a military term .
    I would have to give this debate to her out of the 3

    April 8, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  25. Thomas

    No Obama... interesting... cant handle work, but can talk about how he will work.

    April 8, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
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