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. HomeoftheBrave

    To: a soldier whose been there,

    You'll find no support or change any minds here in this media. Your service and story confuses most here, its seen as "propaganda". But thankfully, the silent majority will stand with you and not run so easily.

    August 22, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  2. pat p., huntington, NY

    Hillary is right!

    August 22, 2007 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  3. Raymond - Chester, PA

    In response to Van:

    I actually agree with you that it appears that Hillary will get the nomination. 🙂 I don't think I'm clairvoyant enough, though, to predict who will get the support of the 'failed' candidates! It could be anyone of the others. My point was that the 'high-road' stance by the Clintons will most likely change when the 'other' starts catching up. Perhaps you are correct that Hillary's numbers will remain high (or higher). But as they say "one never knows, do one"!

    For those who bristle at the negativity on the ticker, I say that "candidate bashing" is as American as apple-pie and has been the norm for over 200 years so don't expect it to stop now! One poignant observation is that many do it simply because they CAN without ramification. Truly, it's one of the most visible expressions of the freedoms guaranteed to all of us!

    One final thought on Steven R Chandler's story of his "son's" response of closing the blinds to the evil in the 'neighborhood'. Very thought-provoking. However, many Americans are wondering why the "blinds" have been shut to other peoples in the world, namely those in Dafur and other African countries whose citizens have endured genocide and evil for years – SOMEBODY's been closing the blinds to their suffering and we wonder why. If the committment to fight evil is the sole reason for war, then the committment to send troops should be uniform! Not practical since we can't stretch our Armed Forces anymore than they already can. We just would like the 'bull' "reasons" to stop! Could it be that America doesn't feel there's any real "interest" in helping them due no (or little) oil is there? I'm proud of your service and would support you no matter what. It is not the brave soldiers who make the policy. ANYONE who denigrates you is not deserving of living withing these borders.


    August 22, 2007 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  4. Danny Casolaro Martinsburg, Virginia

    Wow, your little fiction story (I can only pray it was fiction) is about the most reprehensible piece of tripe I've ever seen on these boards. You ought to have your children taken away from you for your twisted little game of psychological indoctrination perpetrated against a child. Did you study a lot of Mao Tse Tung? He would have loved your methods.
    And so this sad ex-nation births another ideological psychopath.

    August 22, 2007 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  5. Michael James

    This is in response to:
    Steven R Chandler, CMSgt
    332 ELRS/Vehicle Management
    Flight Balad Air Base , Iraq

    Thank you for your service. Freedom isn't free and you are a hero for volunteering to protect all of us.

    August 22, 2007 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  6. Cable King Pittsburgh Pa

    To A Soldier Who's Been There,

    You're apparently effective at following orders. Probably best to let more qualified folks make decisions.

    August 22, 2007 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  7. Robert M. Reidy, Tillson, N.Y.

    TO: Tom Dunn

    Yea, Tom I get it – Hillary is a full fledged side stepping politician and chances are we will never know where she really stands on anything. It's the same old stuff this country has been run into the ground on and you are not only lapping it up – you want more of it. You must be kidding me... ? The Clintons are master programmers and I would suggest that if you have loved the same old for the last twenty years
    keep electing those same old dynasties.
    OLD,OLD,OLD the same old swan song, I hope!
    I am interested in the creativity and energy and courage of the Obamas.

    Try something new for a change, Tom
    you will be happier and invigorated!
    Go with the most intelligent guy in the room as they say! Let the Clintons have
    power over someone else – Live a little.

    August 22, 2007 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  8. Cable King Pittsburgh Pa

    Mr. Anonymous,

    If it wasn't for "60's mentality rhetoric" we'd still be in Vietnam. Thank the heavens for the draftees who brought a balance to military service. Bring Back the Draft!

    A U.S. Army Veteran
    Military Intelligence

    August 22, 2007 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  9. JB Boston

    To the person who posted the story about their son and the neighbor(Saddam). . . .although I wasn't happy to hear your son was crying. . . .RIGHT ON! People do forget that Iraq was a terrible place. No one including the UN was willing to do anything about it, AFTER 16, I REPEAT 16 UN resolutions. All the while, we were concerned about Saddam having Nuclear weapons, and when we wanted proof that he didn't have them, he wouldn't let us see. Generally when someone won't let you see the proof, there is no proof. Now, I am sure someone will say, "why aren't we in the Sudan?" "They are slaughtering people too." You are right we should be there, but we can't because we are in Iraq. The better question is, "why isn't the rest of the world in the Sudan?" And to the woman who claimed that there was no sectarian divide before we arrived (Carrol Ann Newport Maine). . . are you kidding????? Did you ever hear abot the slaughter of Kurds in the North or the Shiite mass graves. Saddam just quietly killed the Kurds and Shiites. I agree it is a mess, but hypothetically, if we csn save 300,000 Iraqis with the loss of 4000 troops, maybe there is a reason to stay. If 300,000 is not the right number then, how about 500,000 or 1 million. When does it become the right thing to do? And if you say never, then you are one who believes in isolationism. . . not such a bad thing either, but, most don't agree. Just my thoughts!!!!

    August 22, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  10. David, Salinas, CA

    Hopefully the posts accusing Senator Clinton of being a liberal socialist and those accusing her of being a fascist neo-con will balance each other out and allow the American public to she her for what she is: a pragmatic moderate.

    Triangulation works.

    August 22, 2007 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  11. Timothy, Goodfellow AFB, TX

    To Cable King,

    Seeing as how your probabably ignorant of the Air Force military structure let me give you a quick lesson. CMSgt aka Chief Master Sargeant is the top of the food chain on the enlisted side of the house. You don't make Chief by licking someones shoes and doing what your told. You make Chief by being the best of the best and leading the way in bringing change and improvement in your field.

    Then again most of the ignorant people who post here are also unaware of the fact that military members tend to have higher education levels then the general populace. Of course that study must be biased because the military are mindless zombies and you all said so right?

    I find it somewhat sickening to know there are so many ignorant fools in this world who don't get the fact that evil in the world doesn't go away just because you ignore it or boycott it. The Iraqi people tried to rise up once without success and we stood idley by while Saddam Hussein slaughtered his own countrymen. But I guess that is pretty easy to forget when you can actually believe that people were much happier in Iraq when they had no say in the future course of their own country. Things are a mess now but at least the people of Iraq have a say in the course that their country takes no matter what that may be.

    August 22, 2007 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  12. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    Mr. Steven Chandler, carry on my friend, carry on.

    From one vet to another (and not someone from California who says they would have served if called, and thinks Bill Clinton was heroic for being a draft dodger), THANK YOU for your service to the country and the very truthful portrayal of how it really IS.

    August 22, 2007 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  13. William, Chicago IL

    Aww, what happened to my reply? I spent 20 minutes writing an alternate end to the story that was both accurate but respectful, and CNN deletes it?

    First off, I think that the story Steven tells is a good one, and for what it's worth it was a good allegory for why we went to war in the first place.


    The Iraqi people are incapable of coming to terms with each other due to long standing tribal/religious issues. Their government has no real soverenty because 1/3 of it act like a bunch of children who didn't get their way and because they have no real power as their army and intelligence are all US run (at least according to a recent CNN newspiece posted today).

    Not only that, but the war is a huge cost to our national budget. I would much rather see that money go towards a better healthcare system or better schooling. Heck, I'd even settle for just a better air-traffic system than our 1950's radar. The war is also a convinient diversion from taking a look at our own government and noticing how corrupt it has become thanks to special interest groups, lobbyists, and big buisness buying votes for money.

    Therefore, I think it is in our own best intrest if we slowly give more power to the Iraqi government and equally as slowly pull out.

    August 22, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  14. daniel O

    Steven R Chandler, CMSgt
    332 ELRS/Vehicle Management
    Flight Balad Air Base , Iraq

    Thanks for your service. However you acted so much like Bush and Cheney. He hid the truth, doctored intelligence and made them look real. Obviously, it wasnt real but your son was angry at a perceived enemy. Like your son we got mad and went for the wrong person. What happens when your son goes out to fight, opens his eyes and finds out that the person out there didnt do what you said. Should he keep bashing him? Being a child he'll lose your trust and ask why questions. Unfortunately in the millitary orders are obeyed without questions.

    August 22, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  15. David, Gilbert Arizona

    Posted By Simi, Valley, California: "Thank you for your service. No thank you for brainwashing a child. Nice parenting skills there."

    That father/son story you read is an old chain letter that has been circulating the internet for quite a while. Because the individual who made the post decided to post a propaganda chain letter I can't help but wonder if person truly is a member of the armed forces. If he is then I thank him for his service. I would advise him, however, to avoid posting known propaganda because it discredits his own views.

    Just my $.02

    August 22, 2007 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  16. Tom Dunn, Central Square, NY

    To: Robert M. Reidy

    Apparently we have a difference of opinion on Hillary Clinton. I see her as a smart and pragmatic politician who has an excellent chance of winning the presidency. You see her as a conniving low-life who plots and schemes to inflict her same-old views on America. You want change. I want to win. I've noticed that bloggers everywhere who support Obama spend much of their comment attacking the front runner HRC, and less explaining why BHO will win and implement the changes you hope for. Message is great, winning is better. Ask John Kerry and all the rest of us who still walk around shaking our heads at Bush's 2004 victory. The trick to getting a Dem elected is to bring along some of the other side in a few key states, not to constantly preach to the Democratic choir. HRC is a fighter who can actually win. Obama can't win in a general election, however much pure progressives want it to be so. I am personally about as liberal as anyone I know and wanted Dean to be nominated in 2004, but I also see a danger in this country which goes beyond primary politics, so I support the candidate who has the best chance of surviving the GOP attack machine. I guess it really comes down to trust. I think HRC is one of the good guys. So is Obama, but Clinton can actually make some of her programs happen by winning. I don't have anything against Obama and don't write insulting blog comments about him. Dems get too caught up in primary politics when they spend 90% of their time attacking other Dems. Give it a rest.

    August 22, 2007 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  17. Steve, Sumter SC

    Another example of a Washington politician trying to have it both ways? John Edwards is a former Senator who worked in...WASHINGTON! He a POLITICIAN and lives in one America and want us all to believe he understands the other America! Smells hypocritical to me and I am not a Hillary fan! Somebody needs a mirror and not just to check out the haircut!

    August 22, 2007 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  18. Shannon

    Ms. Clinton has become a fully-vested member of the Washington Establishment. As a full member, she says and does things that are intended to pander to the audience of the day. To think she is either capable or interested in telling the truth (in any absolute terms) is foolish. No truth will ever come from her lips except by accident. If Democrats consider her the best possible candidate for 2008, we will get precisely what we deserve (spoken by a committed Democrat).

    August 22, 2007 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  19. JK College Station Texas

    Are you people crazy, Look what the Clinton's did to the White House the first time. Nothing but scandals, deceptions, lies, and cheating. I cannot fathom Americans putting them back in charge.

    August 22, 2007 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  20. John Swanson Chicago


    Why was my first post removed in response to the long-winded post by the armed forces personele? My comparison was clean, and did not contain any vulgarities. The truth hurts doesnt it? Yes, we helped put hussein in office. no the iraquis didnt want to be saved. yes they are complacent in their plight. and no there is no way to justify our presense there. and no, there is no excuse as to why we have remained innactive towards the genocide in Darfur. we rush to save the jews in world war two, yet we leave the black africans in sudan to die. thanks for making the rest of america look like racist hippocrites. CNN IS THE WORST AT CENSORSHIP. YOU REMOVE POSTS THAT CONFINE TO THE REGULATIONS BUT DISSAGREE WITH CNN GOVERNMENT AFFILIATIONS> WHAT A SHAM.

    August 22, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  21. Paul, Kissimmee Florida

    I can't believe the high hopes that the Democrats have for Iraq to fail as a free country. I feel sorry for our service men and women over there knowing that they have a political party praying for failure. It's true that a good day for a soldier is a bad day for a Democrat. A bad day for a soldier is a good day for a Democrat. They should be ashamed of themselves.

    August 22, 2007 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |



    August 22, 2007 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  23. a soldier whose been there Texas

    The story posted earlier "blinds" was emailed to me from a friend. I thought it would make people see more then what this government and media want you to see. Having been in service You never get the real picture from either. I have been to africa. Your great Clinton president pulled us out after a few causalties and now Somilia is a mess again because we weren't allowed to finish the job. Were you there? did you see the dead on the streets!!! And the men and women that are supposely not fit to have kids in this story are the ones giving you the safety to have your little talks so stand in line buddy!!This forum makes me sick to my stomach and something that is rare so this is the last entry from me. God help us all if everyone starts thinking the way some of you all think.

    August 22, 2007 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  24. Ethan, Brooklyn, NY

    "During my last visit to Iraq in January, I expressed my reservations about the ability of the Iraqi government, led by Prime Minister Maliki, to make the tough political decisions necessary for Iraq to resolve its sectarian divisions. Since my visit, Iraqi leaders have not met their own political benchmarks to share power, modify the de-Ba'athification laws, pass an oil law, schedule provincial elections, and amend their constitution. During his trip to Iraq last week, Senator Carl Levin, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee on which I serve, confirmed that the Iraqi Government’s failures have reinforced the widely held view that the Maliki government is nonfunctional and cannot produce a political settlement, because it is too beholden to religious and sectarian leaders. I share Senator Levin’s hope that the Iraqi parliament will replace Prime Minister Maliki with a less divisive and more unifying figure when it returns in a few weeks.

    As I have said many times before, there is not a military solution in Iraq but progress will only come from political reconciliation and compromise from the Iraqis themselves. Given that reality, the President’s escalation strategy is not succeeding.

    Our military has performed magnificently in Iraq but ultimately the future of Iraq will be decided by the Iraqis themselves. Rather than continue an escalation policy that is not fostering political progress in Iraq, we need to send a message to Iraq's leaders that the lack of political progress is unacceptable. Our best hope of fostering political progress in Iraq is to begin the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops." - Hillary Clinton, 8/22/2007

    Anyone who disagrees with that statement - including our President - truly does not understand the nature of this conflict.

    August 23, 2007 03:48 am at 3:48 am |
  25. mcclaud

    I find it interesting to observe both sides of the fence during this period of conflict in the Middle East.

    Those people who keep claiming that the Iraq war is unique and a critical fight for the sanctity of the West should probably go back and do some research about Iraq's past.

    I agree that the surge is working, but only in the sense that it is keeping civilians secure for the time being. However, unless the Iraqi government can pull it together and get strong enough to enforce the security of it's own country, no amount of American presence in Iraq will ever change anything. I'm bracing myself for the moaning in February when the attacks pick back up and the casualties return to an all-time high in Iraq, despite the increased number of US troops over there.

    There is no military victory in Iraq – it has to be a social and political one, jointly created by all occupants equally represented in the government. Which is not happening, and most likely will never happen. No matter how much we try to make it happen. Part of the problem with people who say that it's imperative that we stay there to fight the "terrorists" or the "insurgents" don't realize that the very people the US fights to save are the ones that turn around the next day and fight the US. They don't want peace – peace means stability, stability means cooperation, cooperation means equality. And none of the powers in Iraq want equality.

    They want to fight the other until they are either dead, or their opponents are. Iran is just the arms dealer making money of the conflict.

    August 23, 2007 04:20 am at 4:20 am |
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