April 17th, 2008
03:18 PM ET
6 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. Kay-Arizona

    Hillary Clinton Plagiarized Obama's popular positions as her own? Working across party lines is not a new position for Hillary Clinton, she not only will continue to do it but has been doing it for years. Obama didn't have any positions during the first few debates until he heard what Hillary had to say then adopted them as his own with perhaps small changes.

    April 17, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  2. Ronald

    Ummm, why give Clinton's response coverage and not Obama's? His was more direct! "The President is Commander in Chief . . . not the Generals." CNN . . . are you trying to out goofy ABC?

    April 17, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  3. Seattle for Obama

    It is funny. is't that how we got in the mess in the first place, with the president thinking that he could/did over rule everyone and went to war. Sound Republican to me.

    It is funny how all the Clinton Supporters are saying Bill did this Hillary didn't. Then why is Obama being bashed for Rev Wright. That sounds stupid and two faced to me.

    I want to know about the issues not I misspoke or is she or he not bitter or is rev wright still your friend. OMG this is our country we are talking about not the Enquier.

    Let's pick a nominee already!!!

    April 17, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  4. Nancy

    HOESEFEATHERS!....Will the REAL Hillary Rodham Clinton please stand up.

    April 17, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  5. Glenn, Cary, NC

    Hey, Cameron -
    She has always said – and proven – that she can work across party lines. That's why she was re-elected to the Senate from New York by an overwhelming margin. Obama is the B.S.-er here. When Republicans have tried to work with him he has stabbed them in the back. Shameless how he will say anything to get elected.

    But to get back on topic, Senator Clinton is absolutely right. The President is Commander-in-Chief. She will set the mission and the military will carry it out. Obama-bots may have a different idea about the chain of command, but Senator Obama himself should probably know how it’s supposed to work. After all, he was a part-time, sort-of professor or something teaching constitutional law for awhile.

    Senator Clinton has served for several years on the Senate Armed Services Committee and has 35 retired Generals and Admirals including two former Chiefs of Staff who support her BECAUSE they are confident in her ability to do the job of Commander-in-Chief.

    April 17, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  6. kathleen retired Professional w/woman for obama

    Is that a rope around Hillary's neck?

    April 17, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  7. Len in Washington

    Wasn't this almost the exact statement that Obama made last night in the debate after she "stumbled" and stated "I'll call in the generals and my staff and we'll discuss what the status is and then decide on a 'safe' exit of our troops."

    Now, it seems, she has "decided" that Obama's response was better and should make it hers.

    It just doesn't stop. Good grief.......

    Len in Washington

    April 17, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  8. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    The President is always in charge as Commander-In-Chief....

    However, my Queen...you should not try to circumvent, second guess, or select tactics and strategy on your own–without including your "generals" in the Pentagon and in the field. If you do (and I'm sure you will because you manage only by polls) you will be puttin our our military personnel at risk–and ultimately you will lose the support of your military commanders.

    But you just go right ahead... McCain needs to gain the armed services vote in order to win...thanks for helping him.

    April 17, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  9. D. Thorne, Newport Beach

    . . . .Which will be President Barack Obama.

    Obama 08.

    April 17, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  10. McCain Clinton 08

    Hilldog!! Woot wot

    April 17, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  11. Limey

    What a ridiculous thing to say. This woman should never be allowed to call herself "Commander in Chief".

    Sitting back and waiting for McCain to rip into her....A President who doesn't listen to his experts in the field has no right to sit in the Oval Office.

    April 17, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  12. USAF Sr. Airman

    So Clinton says "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."....... Well it's not like she was even in the Military to at least have a feel for how things should be run. Dismissing the advice of the Officers in command would be a disaster. Opposing the war from home and wanting to get out fast is one thing (and understandable), but actually being in the war and seeing these places day after day offers much more insight to how things should be handled.

    At least Obama said he'd talk to the Commanders and listen to their advice.

    April 17, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  13. Mike from Calgary

    Why should Hillary start listening to Generals or civic leader or economist of Democrats or Republicans? She knows everything!! Only problem is that this know-it-all loves to mismatch her words with what the facts "is" "is" , especially when she believes that it is to her advantage. Only problem with pathological liars is that after a while, the voters hear her gripes and groan "there she goes again".
    When Hillary throws dirt, all she does is lose ground.

    Obama on the other hand displays the "grace" that Rudyard kipling spoke of where one walks with kings but does not lose the common touch". Obama is truly a man for all seasons. Your country, elect him or not, is lucky to have a man of his stature stand up for America, to stand up to the lobbyist, and to strive to remove self-service from the public service.

    Mike

    April 17, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  14. Brian

    Awww CNN I know you must be disappointed about the debate last night, but really it IS news and maybe you should report on it? I know it's hard, when your boy Obama got stomped on by Hillary, but you know as a NEWS network that it's hard for you to ignore. Though by today's headlines you are trying. I guess I'll just suggest here that everyone go to a REAL news network, like MSNBC, Fox, USA Today, or the New York Times to read about the beating that Barack took last night. Funny how little we know about the guy that is coming to light now, oh well, that shouldn't be a surprise at all, should it? Most of his supporters had NEVER EVEN HEARD HIS NAME before last fall

    April 17, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  15. Juliet

    Cameron, you are soooooooo on POINT. Thank you! :)

    OBAMA'08

    April 17, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  16. tom

    As a very wise man (Will Rodgers) was quoted... "Diplomacy is the art of saying nice doggy, while you are looking for a rock".

    If not a liberal when you are twenty, you have no heart. If still a liberal when you are forty, you've lost your mind.....

    April 17, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  17. Hec in SA

    President, not Generals, will be in charge in Iraq.

    Yay! A return to failed Vietnam-era presidential arm-chair quarterbacking whereby a president, thousands of miles away, calls the tactical shots in a war, while sitting comfortably in his leather arm chair. LBJ would be proud!

    April 17, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  18. look byond

    I thought Hilary was a democrat.
    How come she and MCcbush – MCCain are collaborating together and attacking Obama.

    I s she routing for the GOP.

    Am confused.

    April 17, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  19. Isaac, Wisconsin

    It is Obama who likes to plagiarize...not Hillary. Where are the Yes we Can slogan of Gov. Patrick Duval...Hillary beat him and he was disappointing...obamaians please get over it..

    April 17, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  20. Rishi

    I could have sworn that Barack Obama in last night's debate (preceded Hillary Clinton's comments at Haverford) said that it's the commander-in-chief that sets the direction for generals on the ground and therefore it seems as though Clinton is recording the advice and labeling it as her own astute judgement..

    April 17, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  21. Isaac, Wisconsin

    It is Obama who likes to plagiarize...not Hillary. Where are the Yes we Can slogan of Gov. Patrick Duval...Hillary beat him and he was disappointing...obamaians please get over it..

    April 17, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  22. look byond

    I thought Hilary was a democrat.
    How come she and MCcbush – MCCain are collaborating together and attacking Obama.

    I s she routing for the GOP.

    Am confused.

    April 17, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  23. Jake, California

    But I thought a few weeks ago, Hillary said she would consult with generals on the ground!

    Is she misspeaking ago or just plain double tongue as we know her to be?

    April 17, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  24. So, Hillary Choked... SHOCKER!!, Chicago IL

    Cameron,

    I thought I was the only one who noticed that. Am like, wait, that's not Obama; who is that? Hitlary? Bomb Bomb hitlary? hahahaha

    But, you know, her supporters will say she won the debate. People, she just destroyed her electability last night. And, on this very impotant topic: Foreign Policy!
    That is Shocking, considering she has all that , "experience!"

    Umbrealla Coalition or some other junk like that. Gimme a break! She is lacking total judgement on how to handle the middle east. Expect more supers to go the O's way.

    Cameron, we know what's really going on don't we?

    April 17, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  25. Helga, St. Louis, MO

    Most of Hillary's decisions were based on hypotheticals. She didn't think Bush would abuse his authority when she signed off on the war in Iraq. Her employment incentive package was based on Gore being President. Who knows what hypothetical would enter her mind at 3:00 a.m. Hillary is a hypothetical.........person

    April 17, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
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