August 22nd, 2007
09:04 AM ET
15 years ago

Rivals criticize Clinton for Iraq praise

Clinton addressed the VFW convention Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - White House hopeful Hillary Clinton is taking heat Tuesday from some of her Democratic rivals over recent comments suggesting the president's surge policy in Iraq is "working."

The remarks came during an address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention Monday, in which the New York Democrat said the president's Iraq policy was leading to success in "some areas."

"We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas, particularly in Al Anbar province, it's working," she said. "We're just years too late in changing our tactics."

"We can't ever let that happen again," Clinton added. "We can't be fighting the last war. We have to keep preparing to fight the new war."

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson quickly jumped at the chance to highlight Clinton's seeming praise of the president.

“The fact is the surge is not working," he said in a statement. "I do not give President Bush the same credit on Iraq that Hillary does."

Meanwhile, David Bonior, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards' campaign manager, called Clinton's comments "another instance of a Washington politician trying to have it both ways."

Though Bonior did agree with Clinton that there was "progress" in Al Anbar, he said "by cherry-picking one instance to validate a failed Bush strategy, it risks undermining the effort in the Congress to end this war."

Howard Wolfson, Clinton's communication's director, charged that Bonior was distorting Clinton’s position.

"Senator Edwards was right on Sunday when he said that all the Democrats would end the war and that the differences between them were small," he said. "He is wrong today to distort Senator Clinton's opposition to the surge in a sad attempt to raise his flagging poll numbers."

"The fact is that while Democrats, including Senator Edwards and Senator Obama, acknowledge progress in Al Anbar, Senator Clinton opposed the surge from the start and believes there is no military solution to the war in Iraq," Wolfson added.

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Bill Richardson • Hillary Clinton • John Edwards
soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. Wallace, Philly PA

    What a credible candidate we have here! Mrs. Former 1st Lady with all the experience in the world. Yes, Clinton has experience, but his name is not Hillary.

    August 21, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  2. Dewade, Alva

    Clinton Rules

    August 21, 2007 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  3. Peggy McCann Greenssboro North Carolina

    Hillary Clinton will do and say anything to become President. She might have been, as a young woman, a very idealistic person. But she lost that a long time ago. It's frightening to see what the desire for power can do to a human being.

    August 21, 2007 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  4. Ethan, Brooklyn, NY

    Hillary is right that MILITARILY the escalation of troops is having a positive effect in Al Anbar, as everyone should assume that it would given the extraordinary capabilities of the US Military. The problem - and Hillary knows this - is that such an escalation is clearly unsustainable both in terms of security (whack-a-mole) and in terms of troop levels. Some may call it playing to both sides, but really, this is a fantastic example as to why Hillary is the most gifted politician in the country and why she will win the general election in a landslide. She knows, just as all the Democrats know (and NONE of the Republicans are willing to say) that we MUST leave Iraq ASAP by way of a CAREFULLY planned exit strategy.

    August 21, 2007 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  5. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    I have read Senator Clinton's remarks concerning the surge.

    Nowhere does she offer praise of President Bush or his failed policies. What she said was "it appears to be working in some areas". She does not say we need to remain in Iraq, in fact, she reiterates that it is too little too late. You'd have to be a complete idiot not to expect or acknowledge that the surge may be partially succesful.

    I am more concerned with Senator Obama's unilateral position that sanctions against Cuba need to be relaxed or eliminated. Have they done something to warrant such a one sided, out of the blue change in policy?

    Experience counts for most things in life, including election as President.

    August 21, 2007 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  6. Ron Bridges, Sumter, SC

    Well, well, well. David Bonior agrees there is progress (some success) in Al Anbar but we should not say that because, telling the whole story will hurt Congress in stopping the war. Maybe just maybe, telling what is really happening whether good or bad and going from there may be good for the entire government. Wonder why no one trust either party?

    August 21, 2007 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  7. Greg, Phoenix, AZ

    So let me get this straight.

    Hillary says the surge is working to win favor with a group of veterans.

    Her rivals attack her for championing the surge.

    Her "spokesperson" says she has always been opposed to the surge and believes there is no military solution for Iraq.

    She is talking about getting ready for a "new war."

    She supports the war, she doesn't support the war.

    My God, this is getting confusing just trying to keep up with ALL of her positions.

    August 21, 2007 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  8. Jake , Minneapolis MN

    I congratulate Ms. Clinton in putting politics aside and looking directly at the issue. She put her interest in polls and votes behind what is in the interest of the United States. The founders of our nation did not intend for policy to be dictated by polls, media, emotion or the public for that matter. Ms. Clinton has shown maturity in leadership with her apprasial of the this situation and others. She is winning my vote.
    a Republican

    August 21, 2007 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  9. Nando, Palm Coast, FL

    Does this really suprise anyone? she will say anything to get elected .

    August 21, 2007 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  10. Billy John Smith

    There was no strategy change in Al Anbar. The surge is not in Al Anbar. How can Alexander Mooney have failed to mention that?

    August 21, 2007 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  11. J, Seattle, WA

    Well she voted for the war.

    August 21, 2007 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  12. Sarju Jackson, Atchison, Kansas

    Hmm,I think this is a nice day for Obama,well Hillary keep on flip floping, we are keeping eyes on you.

    August 21, 2007 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  13. Scott Brown Palm Bay Florida

    What's good for America is bad for the Democrats. Democrats-don't even think about joining this President in any success he has in the War on Terror. It's a shame he has to fight two enemies. One here and one over seas. Shame on Mrs. Clinton!

    August 21, 2007 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  14. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    And Senator Clinton is 100% correct.
    There is no military solution to end the Iraq war. There never was a military solution, just an Administration that perceives bombs, artillery and troops as the only tactic to win their desired goal.

    August 21, 2007 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  15. Robert

    I think it is "naive and shows a lack of experience" for Clinton to be making statements that the surge is working just yet. She is obviously pandering to the Vets. She is a politician who is uniformed and lacks good judgment for sure! There is no defending it Hillbillies she said it load and clear. More Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton for America! It’s got to stop. At least Obama has integrity and sticks by what he says. Obama 08!

    August 21, 2007 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  16. Diane, NYC, NY

    Typical Hillary – when things don't seem to be going well, this is 'Bush's war'. Now that she thinks progress is being made, she's using 'we'.

    I wonder if she takes a poll before she decides what to eat for breakfast?

    August 21, 2007 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  17. Myron, Honolulu, HI

    The Surge is working or not; it may work in some areas for a temporary period of time. It is honest to oppose the Surge and acknowledge any success made temporary or not.

    The Surge may help the Iraqi’s to take over. Actually they will take over just as soon as we stand down. Saying that “we will stand down when they stand up” is backwards. Soon hopefully the Iraqi’s will become tired of being the victims of useless terrorism.

    August 21, 2007 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  18. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Among the Dem candidates, Hillarity is further right than anyone on the war, and will tell the VFW whatever they want to hear. But she's like Fonzie in that classic episode where he can't say he was "wr..., wro.., ..." to vote for the AUMF. Too stubborn, trying to be tough. Silly "girl".

    August 21, 2007 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  19. Carol, Hesperia, Ca

    Another example of Hillary saying whatever she thinks the crowd wants to hear. She changes her tune (and regional dialect) depending on where she is. If her next speech is in front of an anti-war group her message will be exactly the opposite.

    August 22, 2007 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  20. Gary Penley

    Hillary is just trying to attract the attention, and votes, of Republicans. Beware of anything she says, for the truth is not in her.

    August 22, 2007 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  21. Jeff C, San Francisco

    It's not that the tactics were wrong, it's that the whole concept of the war was wrong from the start and gets worse as it goes along. A marginal change of methods can't salvage a project that never had any rational basis in the first place. Clinton as usual is just trying to hedge her bets and split the difference.

    August 22, 2007 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  22. Mysterius, San Francisco, CA

    ... if there was praise for Bush's strategy in that statement, I must have missed or misread that part.

    August 22, 2007 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  23. Lynn Ensley McCaysville, Ga.

    It's time for a woman president fellow Americans. A real woman with a real head and a smart husband behind her. Call Sam Nunn and get him on the road to washington. Start up the steel mills, start a real and unending search for alternate energy and rebuild our military asap. They ain't building all that stuff for nothing. Wake up America.

    August 22, 2007 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  24. CMS, CA

    Talk about ironic; watch the back pedaling as these candidates realize we can't just cut and run from our responsibilities in Iraq. If Iran spreads its vile over Iraq as it has in Lebanon, domestic terrorism will become the norm. We are there and the situation sucks, but the alternative is worse than us leaving.

    I suggest we all get a backbone, collectively acknowledge that terrorism isnt a Dem v Rep issue and that Iran is the real problem and will take years to defuse. We have Iran in a pincher with Iraq and Afganistan. Time to truly "contain" the problem.

    August 22, 2007 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  25. DJ, Los Angeles

    Ladies and Gentleman...

    This is the REAL Hillary Clinton...the Mitt Romney of the Democrats, wheel and deal, and say anything to buy a vote.

    It is true her statements completely undermind Congress efforts to bring an end to the war and an insult to voters that have demanded closure to this endless war.

    I am baffled how Democrats have her in such a commanding lead in the polls over the other candidates.

    August 22, 2007 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
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