October 9th, 2007
09:20 AM ET
10 years ago

Clinton spars with questioner over Iran

Listen to Clinton's verbal spat with a Iowa voter over the weekend.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Hillary Clinton often holds several town-hall events a day as she campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination. But a particular gathering in northern Iowa Sunday is the subject of several media reports after the New York Democrat engaged in a verbal tussle with a questioner over Iran.

At an event in New Hampton, Iowa, a questioner took issue with Clinton's recent Senate vote calling on President Bush to formally call the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. He argued that such a distinction confers the president with the ability to invade the country.

"Why should I support your candidacy . . . if it appears you haven't learned from your past mistakes?" the questioner asked, referring to Clinton's vote to authorize the use of military force in Iraq.

Clinton began by telling the questioner "the premise of the question is wrong," and argued the measure calls for the terrorist label so that sanctions can be imposed. The sanctions, she also said, will in turn "send a clear message to the leadership" and lead to stronger diplomatic efforts.

The Democratic presidential front-runner then concluded by suggesting the question was planted, saying, "somebody obviously sent it to you."

Rolph denied anyone had put him to the question.

"I take exception," Rolph fired back. "This is my own research. Nobody sent it to me, I am offended that you would suggest that."

"Let me finish," Clinton sharply responded, before saying "I apologize, I just have been asked the very same question in three other places."

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- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Iowa
soundoff (308 Responses)
  1. James (the real one), Phoenix AZ

    Wynter –

    You wrote, "But to answer some people's questions on this bill labeling Iran's "Revolutionary Guard Corp's" a terrorist organization. First off, it isn't an authorization to go to war. You need a clear "declaration of war" passed by congress for this to occur as stated by the War Powers Resolution(1973). All of the recent wars including the Iraq war has followed this resolution."

    It's amusing to watch Clinton Apologists like you, Wynter, attempting to explain away Hillary's vote on the Kyl-Lieberman Resolution. Your emphatic attempt to assure "it's not authorization to start a war".

    You're so desperate to support Hillary you can't see the TRUTH: President Bush was hanging by a thread on the current issues (Afghanistan/Iraq) and had NO support doing anything about Iran. This resolution – calling Iran's elite guard a "terrorist organization" GIVES President Bush the support he needed to take action. Of COURSE he's not going to start a "war" – but he will authorize strikes and engage this "terrorist organization". It's all semantics and you can't see it??

    Bill Clinton didn't need congressional approval to command air strikes in an attempt to hit Bin Laden (a "terrorist"). Classifying someone or a group as "terrorist" gives the President and the military permission to attack.

    Let me end by saying "thank you" to Hillary and you supporters. As a conservative I hope the President continues pursuing our enemies regardless where they hide (including in Iran). When this gets "ugly" – we conservatives can point back to Hillary's vote and say it had bi-partisan support.

    October 9, 2007 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. Aaron, Lynnwood, WA

    She has a short fuse and she's playing into this whole "we can attack anybody as long as we call them terrorists" idea. I'm affraid of Hillary. And what's up with calling "hillary haters" "women haters"? I would support a female president if she supported the constitution and didn't want to bury us in taxes. It has nothing to do with her gender, she's just a bad choice for president. Ron Paul has my vote. I wish the media would give him some attention.

    ...Don't tase me, bro!

    October 9, 2007 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  3. J.Crobuzon

    Ron, if the guy flew thousands of miles to be there just to ask her that question, then he was what I would call a plant. That is, he wasn't a local voter with a concern but an outsider playing reporter.

    October 9, 2007 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  4. Megan, Atlanta, GA

    that's the problem with being the front runner...it opens you up to scrutiny...she is trying desperately to play the centrist role, but she (nor any other candidate) can be all things to all people. I say she ultimately will shoot herself in the foot...the Dems have become very good at this lately

    October 9, 2007 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  5. libavenger

    This country has become the Lying States of America. None of the politicians ever tell the truth,either on the left or right. They are just like the Lawyers in the judicial system. Truth has nothing to do with the outcome of a trial, it's only which lawyer can B.S. the jury the best. And the more money you have the better B.S.er you get. Bush has B.S.'d this country into believing he is a christian, but christians aren't supposed to lie in order to start a war. Christians aren't supposed to kill. And christians are supposed to give to the poor not millionaires. Wake up and smell the coffee folks, the god of America is money, not Jesus. The military industrial complex loves this war, they are making hundreds of billions of dollars. And that is why it will go on for the next fifty years. And that is why Hillary refuses to have the troops out by the end of 2013. She said they might not be out by the end of her second term.

    October 9, 2007 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  6. Mike

    For whatever reason Hillary does not field tough questions and prefers to operate in a controlled bubble. It's a shame, because she is certainly capable, but obviously has an agenda she needs to hide from those of us who are anti-war.

    October 9, 2007 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  7. Bubba, Swainsboro GA

    Bryan, Rolph was the dog on Muppet Show. Since being cancelled he's gone really right-wing, insisting that Jim Henson was killed by the Clintons and spending a lot of his own money on right-wing candidates. This isn't the first political rally where he's been spotted barking questions at the audience.

    October 9, 2007 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  8. Ryan, New York, NY

    I'm voting for the Democratic candidate in this election, unless it's Hillary. She was one of the few Dems that I didn't vote for in 2006 when she won a 2nd term as my state's senator. Incidents like this one and her $5K baby bond are a prime reason why. I don't understand how so many Democrats flock to this woman and ignore Obama and Edwards, when in all reality, she's the closest of their candidates to being Republican.

    October 9, 2007 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  9. Rocco, Wellington,Fl.

    We all enjoy the fun of catching a candidate without the answer we feel is correct. Let's not forget some of this is serious stuff. If a vote is necessary to legally name Iran a terrior state that is a more important issue. As much as I hate Bush let us not forget this is serious business.

    October 9, 2007 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  10. A. Owens, North San Juan, CA

    Face it people, Hillary Clinton is taking big corporate money by the bushel and she's joined at the hip with Israel. Just like Bill, who was the best republican president we ever had, she will continue pushing the corporate "free trade" agenda that rapes developing countries and is ruining the American middle class. Sure, she'll throw out a few crumbs like health care and maybe a tax on the wealthy in her first term, but the republicrats in both houses will make sure that none of it ever turns into anything meaningful. By the way, Hillary has no intention of ever pulling all U.S. troops out of Iraq. In the global domination play book that her and Bill read to each other every night, that's the next middle east outpost that the dems will inherit, gratis, from George W.. Sure, she'll pull out a lot of troops, but she has no illusions about giving up that beautiful embassy and all those brand new permanent military bases. Don't forget that she voted to let Bush invade Iraq, and continues to vote funding for it at every opportunity. If Bush attacks Iran, no doubt she'll find some very good reasons to fund that too, no matter what she says in town hall meetings. She voted to let Bush suspend habeas corpus in the name of "fighting terror", and she'll
    continue to use the terrorist bogeyman to accumulate every ounce of power for the executive that she can in her presidency (god forbid). Meanwhile, the neo cons are giddy and drooling over the prospect of having another shot at her and Bill. Fox news and CNN are no doubt already digging through their archives for footage of Monica, the hearings, and the whole mess. A Clinton nomination for '08 would mean one thing; can you spell "Guliani"?

    October 9, 2007 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  11. dawn -- Gaithersburg, MD.

    Sen. Clinton answered Mr. Rolph's question and she answered it fully, accurately, and calmly. Mr. Rolph was simply incorrect when he insisted, repeatedly, that Kyl-Lieberman authorizes military action in Iran. First, Kyl-Lieberman doesn't contain a use of force authorization of any kind because it is a non-binding "Sense of the Senate" Resolution. Second, it REQUESTS that the president use military power against Quds Force operatives in IRAQ, not IRAN. (Newsflash: our forces will do that anyway.)
    Sen. Clinton was perfectly reasonable with an ill-informed and VERY persistent questioner who would not accept her ACCURATE answer. She wasn't "testy," or "sharp," or "irritable." Nor did she display a "short fuse.
    Can we be done with this silly "story" now?


    Elementary international law point. It's not because Osama bin Ladin was a terrorist that President Clinton was able to go after him in Sudan (I believe it was) without Congressional approval. It's because Osama bin Ladin is an individual, NOT A STATE. States don't declare war against individuals (except metaphorically); they declare war AGAINST OTHER STATES. (Sudan is widely perceived as a failed state, meaning it has no sovereignty to violate, which is why attacking it without congressional approval was within the bounds of international and U.S. law. Afghanistan under the Taliban, likewise.)
    THINK ABOUT IT: does the President need Congressional approval before he arrests or uses deadly force against every criminal? No matter how many people the criminal has killed?
    By all means, be against Sen. Clinton, but PLEASE, use coherent arguments.

    October 9, 2007 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  12. JB Hull, Iowa

    "So haters and Women bashers… keep hating.."

    This is what angers me most about Clinton supporters... those of us who do not support her have a variety of reasons, primarily based on her spotty record, authorization of the Iraq war, terrible environmental record, high negatives going into the general election, inability to find common ground and pass health care in the ninetees, etc etc.

    And yet people like you claim the reason we don't like her is that she's a woman. I think that's one of the most ignorant and sexist arguments you can put forward.

    I think it would be great to have a female president. But I could not in good conscience support Hillary Clinton.

    October 9, 2007 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  13. Wynter, Loudon, NH

    James (the real one),

    Your statements don't pan out. What I was saying was the truth of the matter. You and others seem to enjoy stating that the Kyl-Liberman Resolution is some grand scheme to start another war in the region. And your pandering of this as such is simply false.

    The Iraq War that we are stuck in now, thanks to the current administration had to go through a good many steps to get even the troops on the ground. There was the attempts at getting the U.N. Security Council to impose more than little sanctions. And there was the continuous bombardment of false information from the administration on who had what and when in the arena of WMDs over there. It wasn't until there was enough, I will use the term "proof" loosely here, that a formal Declaration of War was put to Congress. And I am missing the years and years where Iraq tossed out the inspectors and then let them back in, moved a few things around, then kicked them out again. And the no-fly zone, etc. As you can see it ain't as easy as you seem to make it out!

    The fact is that we have a country named Iran that has it's Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iraq and they are not there for a picnic. Their ordinance has been found in IEDs and their personnel have been picked up. Now going as far as complaining to Iran and labeling their guard forces as terrorists? I would say that it fits. But declaring a war? Congress has no intention of doing it and the country wouldn't stand for it.

    Telling it like I see it,

    October 9, 2007 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  14. mike, dallas,tx

    Van, from NY, you are one poor soul!

    "Don't listen to these people, most of whom have based their opinions on their biases and haven't even heard the actual exchange."

    And what is your "UNBIASED" source ?
    "Hillary is 44..." That is really pathetic if that is your supposedly objective source of information. That is a Hillary propaganda site that is operated by people who won't even disclose themselves who they are and won't post any comments from the public.
    Basically they are an echo chamber of Hillary propaganda.

    I feel for you Van!

    October 9, 2007 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  15. dan

    Let's see:

    8 years Bush Sr VP
    4 years Bush Sr Pres
    8 years Clinton Bill Pres
    8 years Bush Jr Pres
    8 years Clinton Hill ? Pres
    8 years Bush Jeb ? Pres
    8 years Clinton Chelsea
    8 years Bush Jenna

    60 year empire.... (i bet Bush sr will really feel like a dope being the only one who didn't get 8 years as pres... at least he had the 8 as vice, though)

    October 9, 2007 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  16. Pat, Huntington, NY

    Wow! She sure gets a response! Over 260 of them to this article alone! I commend her in her response. She was asked the same exact question three time at three different venues and therefore, the temperment of her response is reasonable. As for the specifics of her response, it is as she said – in order to place sanctions on Iran, the Congress had to first declar its armed forces terrorists. How that translates to a resolution giving Bush unfettered authority to invade Iran is beyond me! And he's not ready to invade Iran...he knows he can't with the current state of our military stretched so thin right now.

    October 9, 2007 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  17. Rodney Dallas TX

    You people are saying she dodged the question. She didn't dodge the question. She answered it. He said why did she give approval to invade Iran. She said she didn't. She gave approval to list them as a terrorist organization so that sanctions can be applied. You people need to know all the facts before you start talking. The question was answered. She satisfied my curiosity.

    October 9, 2007 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. Meks, FL

    To Coach Haughton:

    The big lying dog! We can impose economic sanction on a country without declaring them a terrorist state but we cannot impose economic sanction on a part of government who strategically aid insurgents with IED's to maim our soldiers,(though i believe the war is pointless), without labeling them with something. Revolutionary Guard is not a state but rather an entity within the Iranain government which runs its own government and is not totally ressponsible to the Iranian president. They have stronger powers in some ways since they take directive from the body of mullahs (headed by supreme commander, Khomeini). Get your facts right before evoking your emotions and vitriolic hatred on this blog. All the bill did was to label them terrorist so state department can impose economic sanction on the members of this group and the group itself. Why don't you for once be honest to yourself.

    October 9, 2007 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  19. James (the real one), Phoenix AZ

    Dawn – MD,

    (Before Kyl-Lieberman Resolution):

    Iran is a STATE. The military protecting Iran is the (state-sponsored) elite guard. We can't attack a STATE therefore nothing we can do about Iran's military.

    (After Kyl-Lieberman Resolution):

    Iran's elite guard is now deemed a "terrorist organization". IT IS NO LONGER a STATE issue, rather – it is a TERRORIST issue (a-la Bin Laden). Now we can attack Iran's elite guard.

    Holy moley Dawn, can you REALLY not see the difference?

    October 9, 2007 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  20. Thomas, St. Petersburg, FL

    I had to post this again because the "Freedom of Speech" censors at CNN removed it:

    This verbal tussle demonstrates that Hillary does NOT want to answer difficult questions. This is why she refuses to go on the top rated cable news program, "The O'Reilly Factor".
    Senator Kerry made that mistake during the 2004 presidential election (he has since admitted that avoiding O'Reilly in 2004 was a huge mistake).

    I will not even consider voting for a politician who refuses to answer questions on issues that affect the life of my family and me.

    October 9, 2007 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  21. Zack, NJ

    We call the Revolutionary Guards terrorists, and many others will call our Marines terrorists.

    How did the other candidates vote on this?

    October 9, 2007 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  22. Bubba, Swainsboro GA

    Rocco, if we start voting that other countries are terrier states we will have really gone to the dogs.

    October 9, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  23. Coach Haughton NH

    This is directly from the Kyl-Liberman amendment that passed.

    (3) that it should be the policy of the United States to combat, contain, and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its foreign facilitators such as Lebanese Hezbollah, and its indigenous Iraqi proxies;

    (4) to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military instruments, in support of the policy described in

    [Page: S11866]paragraph (3) with respect to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies;
    (5) that the United States should designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and place the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists, as established under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and initiated under Executive Order 13224; and

    I wasn't sure about this so I looked it up on the senate website.

    This DOES give the president justification to take military action against the Iranian army. She is playing the word game by saying that it does not give the president the authority to go to war with Iran. It's not an authorization of war, but the president does not need such a vote to take military action against a terrorist organization. That was the point in giving them the label.

    To fully understand you need to look up the emergency economic powers act as well.

    This is very scary folks. First Iraq...now this?

    Calling it like I see it.

    October 9, 2007 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  24. J.Crobuzon

    James, the possibly unreal one, it isn't a video game! Nice idea that the prez could follow our enemies in every country in the world and punish them. Maybe he could wear that Master Chief suit from Halo when he does that. But here in reality we have to live with the aftereffects of our wars.
    We haven't declared war on anyone since WWII, in case you thought we had; all our wars have really only been police actions. It's really hard to declare war on someone unless they bomb Pearl Harbor.

    October 9, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  25. bj, houston, texas

    i really hope this lady does not become president.

    October 9, 2007 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
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