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. David, Los Angeles CA

    I think this is the first time that Mrs. Clinton actually said someting with some truth in it. Congrads

    August 22, 2007 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  2. John G Summerville, SC

    Pandering at it's absolute most transparent.

    Hillary Clinton is married to a draft dodger, opposed a troop surge, supported a spending bill which reduced our men and women in uniform to political bargaining chips so while giving a speech at a VFW convention she praises a strategy that she opposed in the senate.

    How stupid does she think we all are?

    August 22, 2007 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  3. Sabbir Hussain,hyd A.P. India

    The govt of America and the citizens know very well what happened in vietnam,so noting should be compared with it.The People of United states are innocent i totally agree and they are paying for the war thats going on in Iraq ,but at the same time the Govt is not innocent.Bush Administartion very well knew what will happen if they invade iraq hence we are seeing today death and distruction which was not there earlier.Neither Iraq had to do anything with Al qaeda and we all know the truth of weaponds of mass destruction how many such weapons were recovered from iraq, so an invasion just to topple Saddam, which has been smoothly done leaving the country in mess .Now the admnistration will give facts about killings and sectarian violence but its irony that no one has the guts to see in their own shoulder what wrong things they carried what actions they did and what consequence this whole situation is going.We need a better understanding for each other ,compassion and love for each other...I feel when an american is killed so do i feel pain with any other people whoever it is...when can we relieve humans from pain and agony what can be the solution .DOnt we have enough brains and logic to comprehend these factors or our needs and political agenda is more important than all these.Of course the killers of human society should be traced and brought to justice of course we need to wipe out terrorism from this globe but let us do without bringing more tears to innocent lives and people.I pray To God so that we can have better understanding and new thought lines for a civilsed cooperative One NATION that is we...I want a society where i can proudly tell to my angels see we are living in harmony in this planet can u show any other such planet?

    August 22, 2007 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  4. Ben, Erie, PA

    I think this story is proof enough that Ms Hillary will say only what her audience wants to hear. She's been in countless debates with Senator Obama trying to prove why the Iraq War is not working and how it has been mis-managed. Now, with a vetran-audience, she says that the war in Iraq is working, and that we should focus on fighting the "new war"! What is this "new war"? It's time that this old generation of US bureaucrats stepped down, the Country has had enough!

    August 22, 2007 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  5. Chris, Portland, Oregon

    I just do not understand. Does it not make sense that when you increase the amount of soldiers, there will be some success. Why is Hillary castigated for pointing out that there has been a modicum of success. She is still not behind the plan, and we all know that Bush is going to only talk about the success. She is just pointing that out prior.

    August 22, 2007 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  6. Harry, Truro, MA

    Another instance of Hillary playing it both ways, this time trying to please the vets and anti-war people at the same time.

    August 22, 2007 05:01 am at 5:01 am |
  7. Anonymous


    So you're saying the surge is making progress, but you opposed its implementation. So youre taking credit for something you opposed? Might want to go back and rewrite the article CNN, you just made your girl look like a hypocrite.

    August 22, 2007 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  8. Anon.

    Hillary again panders to the crowd, taking the popular stance of the audience. Where have we seen this before? Oh yeah, its every time she opens her mouth!

    August 22, 2007 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  9. J T Blackledge, Canby, Oregon

    Politicians disgust me. Clinton makes a seemingly honest appraisal of the effects of an opponent's policy, and her competitors jump on her for not blindly condemning said policy. We will not move forward as a country until politicians acknowledge the strengths of opposing policies and the weaknesses of their own-and strive to work together, compromise when possible, and build a coalition, not a competition. But then again, democracy is not well suited for this kind of work. As Churchhill said, "Democracy is the worst form of government known to man.....except for all the others."

    August 22, 2007 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  10. Carrol Ann, Newport, Maine

    Hilary is right. The troops are doing their best in the midst of this civil war which is also beset by insurgents. They have created very small pockets of security, which unfortunately results in the insurgents moving elsewhere to bomb and kill. As she states, it is far too little too late. And as she states, we need to learn why it is too little too late.

    I am one voter who can think for herself, and see through the politics, lies and tacticts used by others for their own advantage. That doesn't work for me!

    I have posted a blog to Hilary's site stating that this type of Democratic infighting does not serve the party, and certainly does not impress or move independent thinkers such as myself.

    One of Hilary's strengths is to withstand and rise above assault. Remember, she's had plenty of practice over the many years she has lived and worked in the public eye.

    I lose respect fast for anyone, democrat or republican who twists the truth and hopes I don't notice.

    Hilary is right, despite the great job our troops have done and are doing, it is not enough. It is impossible to have a military solution in Iraq, if we are to try to fight this multi-faceted war by ourselves. With an inefective Iraq government, it would appear there is no political solution either.

    One way to bring peace to Iraq would be to declare it an international police state and have the largest international force in place to gain stability. Then perhaps the nation could then create itself. It would appear that our actions have created such divide in Iraq between the different groups that it will take centuries to reconcile. Before our invasion there was not sectarian divide! The US cannot solve this mess on its own.

    I have no problem with what Hilary stated. I do have a problem with other democrats acting like republicans and savaging her for their own advantage.

    I am not entirely powerless. I do have a vote, for what that is worth these days. I intend to use it.

    August 22, 2007 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  11. Jenny, Gainesville, FL

    I really do not care anymore whatever Hillary says. Her strategy has been a strategy of ambiguity: trying to have it both ways, which sometimes appears to be flip-flopping. People should start to ask a hard question about Hillary, "What experience does she have and what judgment has she shown?" I am always amazed by her claim that she has 35 years of experience. Let's define experience. What is relevent is only her 7 and a half years' experience of being in the U.S. Senate? What has she accomplished in these years? In terms of public service, she is the second least experienced in terms of length among the democratic candidates (Edwards has 6 years, the least experienced). Being the wife of a public official is in no stretchable imagination a public service.

    August 22, 2007 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  12. Nate, Portland, Oregon

    So this is what Clinton's experience really means...that the surge is working, it's just too little to late. (I guess she didn't know that today's headline would be dominated by the deaths of 14 American soldiers.) Let's hope Democrats wake up to what Clinton's experience really means, more of the same.

    August 22, 2007 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  13. Jenny, Gainesville, FL

    To add one thing to my previous comment about experience. The number of years of public service:
    Edwards – 6
    Hillary – 7 and a half
    Obama – 11

    August 22, 2007 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  14. Gary Shoreview Minnesota

    Mr.Bush was stunned, found out he had two wifes, Laura and Hillary Bush. Hillary will say and do anything to get elected". The Lies flow from her mouth like Honey". The people of this Nation have a lot to be dissatisfied with. First and foremost our politicians.

    August 22, 2007 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  15. DF in FL

    Hillary seems to change her tone and judgement to her perception of what the audience wants to hear. Perhaps she is more interested in being elected than providing a new leadership for America.

    August 22, 2007 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  16. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    Many of you enlightened Clinton lovers always ask "why so negative about her, based on what"?

    Above she is hoping to gain points with the uninformed who hear this speech and may gather that "she was for the surge that is working, but Bush still sucks".

    She appears hawkish and tough, gets to bash Bush and only here is it said that she actually opposed the surge.

    It is also based on her flip-flops (I hate the phrase as well, but when in Rome) and her quest to have it both ways politically, but contrary to you Clintonistas that feel you are the only ones that know how to use the "internets" I give you the following from a speech December 2003:

    "I was thrilled that Saddam Hussein had finally been captured," she said in a Monday speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. "Like many of you, I was glued to the television and the radio as I went about my daily business. We owe a great debt of gratitude to our troops, to the president, to our intelligence services, to all who had a hand in apprehending Saddam. Now he will be brought to justice, and we hope that the prospects for peace and stability in Iraq will improve." Clinton made four key points: She doesn't regret voting to authorize the president to go to war; she's "delighted" that Saddam Hussein was captured; American troops should stay in Iraq for as long as they're needed, and at higher levels than present, if necessary; and the postwar fight to secure Iraq is crucial."

    August 22, 2007 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  17. Nate, River Falls, WI

    It's a sad day in the United States when a military success in Iraq is considered a threat to the Democratic Party nominees. As a Democrat myself, I feel it is time we all in this party re-evaluate our beliefs and positions. The fact that many Democrats are rooting against the United States in a vital military conflict is chilling and scary. A secure and stable Iraq is the best interest of our national security.

    August 22, 2007 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  18. Mark R., Fort Lauderdale FL

    Hillary told the truth; she didn't say she supports the war. After huge sacrifices on our part and stretching our military to the breaking point, there ARE less violent episodes in Anbar province. As soon as we drwan down numbers the violence will return. Just because we are able to temporarily decrease violence with this "surge" doesn't mean it was the right thing to do, or that it should be continued. Quit trying to twist around words.

    August 22, 2007 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  19. Andrew, Miami, FL

    How quickly they all jump in on each other for personal gain and how ready they are to distort each others' words. It's kind of appalling.

    August 22, 2007 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  20. Les M. Tpa, FL.

    Hillary is the leading democratic candidate and it has been said that she has to make a big goof for her to slip.... Gents & ladies; this is not it!.

    August 22, 2007 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  21. Bel Peoria IL

    I was a Hillary Clinton fan for a very long time. But it was really her judgement on the war that lost me.

    I'm voting for Senator Barack Obama because he appears to be the only one with the ability to defeat someone of her stature.

    August 22, 2007 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  22. Vincent, Tamaqua Pa

    Hillary is just being a realist.

    Obviously having 160,000 american troops on the ground in Iraq, we will begin to have some progresses on the ground.

    August 22, 2007 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  23. Chip Celina OH

    Reading some of the comments here, it looks as if some are auditioning for Howard Wolfson's job.

    Sen. Clinton has made an observation. According to the article, that observation parallels that of Senators Edwards and Obama.

    QUOTE:"The fact is that while Democrats, including Senator Edwards and Senator Obama, acknowledge progress in Al Anbar,...

    Where some may have hope for his job is the rest of Mr. Wolfson's quote: "Senator Clinton opposed the surge from the start and believes there is no military solution to the war in Iraq,"

    So, which is it? She voted for authorizing the president to go to war, now says that was a mistake. Was against the 'surge' but now says it's working.

    I don't think that Senator Edwards is opposing Senator Clinton's stance in "a sad attempt to raise his flagging poll numbers" as Wolfson states. From where I sit he (along with Senator Obama) have been fairly consistent since day one.

    The fact that all three make the same observation is a non-issue, to try and spin it and then add the information that your candidate was against it from the beginning is just poor management on Mr' Wolfson's part.

    Have a great day,


    August 22, 2007 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  24. Josh

    The irresponsible thing about her statement is not the fact that she made it. Everyone has heard reports about there being progress in al Anbar. The irresponsible thing is that this simple (and yes, factual) statement will distort the views of many Americans so that they will start to believe that there actually is progress in Iraq. There have already been posts on here proving that, and I can assure you there will be MANY more. But people quickly forget that Iraq's political situation is worsening, and that is really the problem.

    If we learned anything from the Bush Administration, it is that Americans are mostly ignorant and fickle and can be convinced of anything. Whether she meant it that way or not (and I don't think she did), Clinton should have known that "news" media would twist her statment to mean that she thinks there is real progress in Iraq.

    She really should have taken her own advice on this one as a presidential candidate and not said what she really thinks.

    August 22, 2007 09:50 am at 9:50 am |

    Solution: Vote Barack Obama

    August 22, 2007 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
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