April 17th, 2008
03:18 PM ET
7 years ago

Clinton: President, not generals, will be in charge in Iraq

Clinton is pledging to begin withdrawal in the first 60 days of her administration.
Clinton is pledging to begin withdrawal in the first 60 days of her administration.

HAVERFORD, Pennsylvania (CNN) – Hillary Clinton declared Thursday she will begin withdrawing troops from Iraq within 60 days of becoming president, regardless of what her military advisers say about the situation on the ground at the time.

"You can see which way the questions are going," she firmly told a mostly female audience gathered at Haverford College, a small liberal arts school outside of Philadelphia. "What if the military commanders tell you its dangerous to withdraw? That question is backwards. The president tells the military commanders what the mission is."

Clinton has faced a slew of hypothetical questions from reporters about withdrawing from Iraq after she said last week that her rival Barack Obama cannot be trusted to end the war.

In making that case to voters and the press, the Clinton campaign has cited an interview with a former Obama foreign policy adviser, Samantha Power, who told the BBC in March that the Illinois senator's pledge to withdraw all combat troops in 16 months was "a best case scenario."

At the Democratic debate in Philadelphia last night, Clinton was asked if she would bring the troops home "no matter what," even if that meant destabilizing the country.

Clinton said yes, promising to do so responsibly and with a strong diplomatic effort in the region.

"Our professional military are the best in the world," she said. "They give their best advice. And then they execute the policies of the president."

– CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby


Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Pennsylvania
soundoff (380 Responses)
  1. Nobillary Andobama

    "What if the military commanders tell you its dangerous to withdraw? That question is backwards. The president tells the military commanders what the mission is."

    Ladies and Gentlemen.....I give you the MOST UNQUALIFIED person in the world to be the next Commander in Chief.

    April 17, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  2. SayNoToHillaryBillaryCheslaryClintrous

    Hillary telling people The president tells the military commanders what the mission is, this is what Obama said last night at the debate. She Knows words matter, she can not come up with her own explantion but to copy Obama's words.

    April 17, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  3. twister49 - oklahoma

    Obama basically said the exact samething that Hillary did- but who gets the headline and negative write up from CNN, HIllary, of course, I noticed that whenever , and there are less and less, negative write-ups about Obama, the comments are quickly closed... wondering why CNN?

    April 17, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  4. H. Churchill

    . . .Hillary is clearly copying the exact same thing that Senator Obama
    said, and using it as her own idea.

    April 17, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  5. Jenn

    Huh. Seems like Hillary is parroting Barack today. From the transcript of last night's debate, Obama on his plan to withdraw troops:

    "Because the commander in chief sets the mission, Charlie. That's not the role of the generals. And one of the things that's been interesting about the president's approach lately has been to say, well, I'm just taking cues from General Petraeus.

    Well, the president sets the mission. The general and our troops carry out that mission. And unfortunately we have had a bad mission, set by our civilian leadership, which our military has performed brilliantly. But it is time for us to set a strategy that is going to make the American people safer.

    Now, I will always listen to our commanders on the ground with respect to tactics. Once I've given them a new mission, that we are going to proceed deliberately in an orderly fashion out of Iraq and we are going to have our combat troops out, we will not have permanent bases there, once I've provided that mission, if they come to me and want to adjust tactics, then I will certainly take their recommendations into consideration; but ultimately the buck stops with me as the commander in chief. "

    April 17, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  6. tell the truth

    I want to end the war but I know you must listen to the people on the ground. Can you lose 40 pounds in one week but it took year 2 years to gain the weight? The answer is NO. Same thing sounds goods but you can not do it. She can not make this statement.

    Go Obama people for the truth

    April 17, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  7. Great

    Isn't that exactly what Obama said in the debate? So now she's ripping him off his words.

    Obama '08

    April 17, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  8. Jen B.

    With Clinton, it is her way or the highway, regardless of how reckless or wrong that way is. Why have advisers if you don't intend to listen to them.
    Why did she vote to invade Iraq in the first place?
    I cannot think of a single reason why I should consider gving this woman my vote.

    Obama 2008

    April 17, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  9. stuart_zechman

    yes yes yes yes

    it is about time someone tells th emilitary junta how its going to be

    hillary for me!

    April 17, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  10. bill pike

    oh God I had a senior moment, the headlines on this read "clinton withdrawals" and i thought it was from the disgrace, i mean the race–getting old. maybe i am under fire for the 5th time. think about answering that phone at 3 in the morning and clinton said she made a mistake in what she said–at 7:00pm. by 3 who knows what would have been said. we would declare war with utah.

    April 17, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  11. Bill, Albany, NY

    Hmmm lets see Clinton; no military experience whatsoever vs General Peterus; with years of miliarty experience. Yea Im going to go with the general.

    April 17, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  12. Nicknas

    WHY WHY WHY are we still listening to her> CNN are you just going to re post ALL of her comments from last night? No One wants to hear from her until she answers QUESTIONS that MATTER. Not pretend she will be the next President.

    April 17, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  13. female grad student NYC

    Every answer she made in the debate last night was well thought out, polished, and informed. She also knew so much about every facet of the issues she spoke about – it's amazing, but then at the same time, I guess she's been 'training for the job' all her life.

    She worked her way up the ladder the hard way – or should I say, the American Way. She's tough and not afraid of hardball politics, in fact, that's when she's thriving the most. She gets unfairly ripped to shreds by the biased media, and then gets back on the horse! That's what it takes to advance as a woman in a male-dominated industry!

    What a brilliant female role model for myself and my little sisters! At the risk of sounding cheesy, she inspires us all to shoot for our dreams.

    hope this gets posted

    April 17, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. Obama Supporter

    She is basically just paraphrasing exactly what Obama said in last night's debate! LOL

    April 17, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  15. tom

    Any American success in Iraq hurts two parties.....Al Qiada and the democrats. Perhaps not so strange bedfellows.

    Think about that.

    April 17, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  16. Daniel, Plattsburgh, NY

    OK, so how can you bring home the troops "responsibly" while not worrying about "destabilizing the country"? She might find herself having to pick one...

    April 17, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  17. Marc, Tacoma Wash

    That is why you will never win Hillary.

    April 17, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  18. Rich

    Funny how this was the exact angle that Obama took on this issue last night.

    April 17, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  19. Joe NE

    really? really??

    "The president tells the military commanders what the mission is."

    you come up with that one all by yourself?

    that is almost exactly what obama said last night at the debate. it's good to see that you agree with our future president.

    April 17, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  20. Mike

    Obama got his newbie butt handed to him lastnight. Hillary showed him where he stands in the political arena. It is about time he got some hardballs. cnn and msnbc has thrown him softballs all campaign.

    April 17, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  21. Philly Kid

    Hillary sounds very in control or more accurately is trying too hard to sound 'comander in cheif' like. She scared me a bit with her sound bit on American Umbrella of security over parts of the middle east with regards to Isreal. I fear her over anxiousness to impress will force her hand to mis-judge situations and cost us all too much.

    April 17, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  22. Sylvia

    all I saw was that Obama cannot speak without a script!!!

    April 17, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  23. jorge lopez

    WELL YOU ALL KNOW THAT HILLARY IS THE ONLY ONE TO WIN IN NOVERMBER. AND IF IF SHE DON'T WIN THE NOMINATION WE WONT VOTE FOR THIS OBAMA AND WORSE , WHAT ABOUT HIS WIFE MY GOD.....

    April 17, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  24. Bombs Away

    There once was President and Secretary of Defense who told the military what to do. Where air strikes would go, where to place troops etc. The end result was the Paris treaty ending the Vietnam war and the President was Johnson and Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara.

    Most of us want out of Iraq. All of us do not want the 4,000 plus American lives lost to mean nothing. We can get out and the military will tell us how to achieve that without even more casualties and chaos.

    Maybe Clinton will have a "boilermaker" first before telling the military how to do their job and then be under "sniper fire" when she goes to see the troops. Give us a break!

    April 17, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  25. wewantout

    surgeons recommend surgery; generals recommend war....Hillary is right on! people need to remember the economy during the Clinton years.......we were OK! Just remember!

    April 17, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
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