October 11th, 2007
04:15 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama: Clinton vote on Iran shows 'flawed' judgment

Watch portions of Wolf Blitzer's interview Thursday with Sen. Barack Obama.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama criticized Sen. Hillary Clinton Thursday for her vote in support of a resolution calling an Iranian group a terrorist organization, saying it exhibited the "flawed" judgment she used during the vote to authorize the Iraq war five years ago.

The resolution, which declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, could be used by President Bush as a "blank check" that he interprets as authorization to take military action against Iran, Obama said.

"We know in the past that the president has used some of the flimsiest excuses to try to move his agenda regardless of what Congress says," Obama told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

When asked by an audience member at a campaign event Sunday why she voted for the resolution that the questioner said authorized military action against Iran, Clinton said, "The premise of the question is wrong," and went on to argue that the measure calls for the terrorist label so that sanctions can be imposed.

The sanctions, Clinton said while campaigning in New Hampton, Iowa, will in turn "send a clear message to the leadership" and lead to stronger diplomatic efforts.

Full story

- CNN.com Senior Political Producer Scott Anderson

soundoff (124 Responses)
  1. Kate, Aurora CO

    I usually do not agree with Obama but in this case he is 100% correct. Bush is looking to invade another country before leaving office and Hilary was one of the gullible ones who gave him authority to invade Iraq and we all know how well that has gone. You would think she would have learned to question President Bush's motives and learn from the disaster of Iraq but again she blindly gives him authority to yet again screw up.

    October 11, 2007 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  2. T. Robison, Wallingford, CT

    Obama by far is the candidate with the best judgement in this race.

    He predicted the problems of Iraq and spoke out against the war before it even started.

    He has the same good judgement here.

    Obama '08!

    October 11, 2007 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  3. David, Arlington, VA

    I don't see how Obama, and others, can claim that this resolution is a blank check to take military action against Iran, because that's not what it says. The resolution identifies the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization does not explicitly authorize President Bush to use force against it within Iran. If he were to do so, he would still need to seek Congress' approval, in the form of an authorizing resolution (similar to the one passed in October 2002 for Iraq). Even if here were to use covert action against select elements of the Guard, such as the Qud's Force, in Iran, he would still be required, by law, to notify the Congressional leadership. The Revolutionary Guard, through the Qud's Force, are arming and supporting Shiite militias in Iraq, which in turn are undermining the Iraqi government's attempts to stabilize the country as well as targeting U.S. troops. That makes them a terrorist organziation, so, again, I don't see how anyone can argue otherwise. Be that as it may, it seems like the only reason Congress felt the need to do this was to score some easy political points, because it's usually the State Department that makes these designations. You can read into that however you'd like, but, again, even if Bush really does want to invade Iran and somehow use this as a justification for doing so, there's no way we'd be able to do so now or in the near future due to our troop commitments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

    October 11, 2007 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  4. spinstopper

    This vote gave Bush the "Moral" authority to attack Iran if sanctions do not work..., and we all know sanctions are not going to work against the mullas.

    October 11, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  5. Hopeful Voter, TX

    I'm glad he's finally starting to directly address this issue. The "politics of hope" doesn't mean you can't criticize someone for ignorant policy mistakes. The politics of hope is supposed to mean real change in Washington, being able to really get things done, to change Old-School Washington Politics to serve the American People. You can have hope for America, and still criticize people that want to drive America into the ground.

    And here, he is exactly right. The bill EXPLICITLY says that troop levels in Iraq are -dependent- on Iran. If that's not a connection to extend the war to a war against Iran, I don't know what is.

    I also think it's important to point out something else: In 2002, Hillary Clinton now claims she was voting for "diplomacy, not war in Iraq." Now, she claims she was voting for "diplomacy, not war" with Iran. And everyone remember she criticized Obama for saying he would MEET with foreign dictators like Ahmadinejad? Well now Hillary is saying she wants -diplomacy- with Iran?! Stop being sheep, American people. Start to think for yourselves! We can't let this continue. Stop letting Hillary play games!

    October 11, 2007 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  6. Richard Tabuteau, Atlanta, GA

    Despite the fact that Obama has served in public office longer and won more elections than Clinton, she somehow tries to work this experience quotient. Her argument is moot when with all her supposed experience she constantly demonstrates poor judgment. When Biden, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations committee who isn't exactly a "lefty" or "liberal" on foreign policy, opposses a resolution against Iran, people like Clinton should take a moment to re-evaluate her position. If any thing, expect to hear, "If I knew then, what I know" from Clinton. From Obama, expect judgment over politics and honesty over expediency.

    October 11, 2007 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  7. Pat, Huntington, NY

    Obama doesn't know what he's talking about. How is it flawed judgment to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, in order to impose more sanctions against Iran, the latter being a condition precedent to effectuate the former? And sorry charlie, just because she voted for it, doesn't mean she handed Bush the same authority to rage war in Iran as she did with respect to Iraq. The resolutions are apples and oranges. This whole flawed judgment nonsense is exactly that...nonsense!

    October 11, 2007 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  8. SoujahBoyTellem

    Do not forget to mention that the margin for this bill passing was a wide one, so it would of not mattered if Obama voted, but he spoke out early on opposition to it.

    October 11, 2007 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  9. laurinda.ny

    Everyone had flawed judgement because the Republicans lied. That's why everyone should be careful and not believe everything someone tells you. Obama is just not going to win. No Way. It's impossible. It doesn't matter who did what. It's over and done with. Move on and end this ridiculous war that the Republicans started.

    October 11, 2007 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  10. great seerofall

    The great warrior Eagle has been given the authority to attack the desert's facilities just before the next dawn. Another Eagle will then raise to help form a new desert kingdom for/by the desert's people. This is already the agreed upon path to the future.

    October 11, 2007 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  11. Tres Hewlett Des Moines Iowa

    I love the idea of Barack Obama, and I plan to vote for him in the Iowa primary, but he needs to stop beating this dead horse. We know you were against the war from the beginning, I get it! But when is he going to begin to be a canidate who articulates policies and not just hope for change?

    October 11, 2007 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  12. pl. at the UN for a while.

    This is where things stand.
    – One month ago Mr Obama shocked the nation by declarig that as President he would not ask the government of Pakistan permission to take the war on terror into Pakistan without Pakistan's consent.
    What's wrong with that plan was reviewed on this blog then.
    – Now, for one week, Ms Rodham Clinton has been declaring that Iran is becoming a bigger problem. She has followed that up by voting in the Senate in favor of a resolution that might lead to some kind of war against Iran on the grounds that it harbours terrorists.
    Ms Rodham Clinton is being realistic and was there to vote.
    – Mr Obama went on hiding in New Hamsphire to avoid the vote.
    – Sir you cannot have both ways.

    October 11, 2007 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  13. Dan, TX

    I think he's right. Calling part of the Iranian military a terrorist organization, when we are in a war on terror is significant. We should be able to strike terrorists whereever they are. If Iran is harboring terrorists, we should attack.

    Clinton has told Bush that part the Iranian military is a terrorist organization. Bush is well within his rights to use military force in Iran – thanks to that vote.

    October 11, 2007 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  14. joseph, austin, tx

    So what does Mr. Obama do exactly. He couldnt vote for or against the Iraq war, he choose not to vote on this does he have an opinion or does he just not vote and then reflect what the bloggers think about the resolutions. If you dont vote, dont complain. Even though I think it is a waste of time voting on resolutions that provide terms for people, they're killing our soldiers we should go after them. I know, Im a war monger, sorry for having an opinion.

    October 11, 2007 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  15. Jayson, Beale AFB, CA

    If Mr. Obama wants to talk about flawed judgement he can talk about the current push to condemn the Turkish for a genocide that happened 90+ years ago. The passage of such a bill would be comparable to the logic that makes a child think it is a good idea to throw a rock at a hornets nest that has been knocked to the ground.

    The Turkish are on the brink of attacking the Kurds in Northern Iraq due to Kurdish attacks in Turkey. We have asked them to show restraint and yet now the Democrats would turn around and stir the hornets nest up further. Democrats may think they have such a better way of handling foreign policy but they are showing themselves to be much more incompetent then the Republicans.

    October 11, 2007 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  16. Pickles, Monaca, PA

    I agree with you, speedracer.

    I support Obama over Hillary any day. She'll say anything and do anything as long as it is politically expedient.

    If people have liked where this country has been going over the past 25 years, Hillary is their woman for more of the same.

    October 11, 2007 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  17. Ron, TX

    Tres from Iowa said "We know you were against the war from the beginning, I get it! But when is he going to begin to be a canidate who articulates policies and not just hope for change"

    It's important to note that Barack is articulating Hillary's misjudgment on Iran here. Her misjudgment on Iraq is simply a parallel mistake from which she didn't learn anything. People say the Republicans "misled" everybody, but they didn't. The vote in 2002 was for diplomacy first, and then whatever is necessary next. They tried diplomacy for 5 months. They then moved to war, exactly as the Iraq bill Hillary voted for stated. Now, Hillary is claiming diplomacy again, but the bill clearly states that the troop levels in Iraq are dependent on Iran.

    Maybe CNN will start covering some of his actual policy ideas. He outlined the -most- comprehensive and fleshed out energy plan to date, of any candidate, the other day and CNN only gave it a three paragraph blip.

    October 11, 2007 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  18. Mark R. Fort Lauderdale FL

    Easy there Mr. Vice-president. Don't want to mess-up a good thing. Just play your cards right and you'll get your turn.

    October 11, 2007 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  19. Michael Torrance, CA

    I commend Obama for voting against the war in Iraq, I wish more of our representatives would have also. But to not even vote on this issue and criticize someone else that did? He is beginning to sound like a traffic cop on valium thinking that just saying stop will work. Sometimes just saying stop doesn't work and it absolutely will not work with Iran. I want peace just as much as the next person but this guy seems as soft as milk toast.

    October 11, 2007 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  20. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    Posted By laurinda.ny : October 11, 2007 11:00 am

    Hi Laurinda, nice to hear from you, I hope you are well:

    Check out all these tidbits, other countries, other Democrats and your beloved Hillary as well, on record, saying the same thing Bush did, (pay particular atention to Mr Chirac and William Cohen (Bill's defense secretary):

    "(Saddam) will rebuild his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and some day, some way, I am certain he will use that arsenal again, as he has 10 times since 1983" - National Security Adviser Sandy Berger.

    "Iraq made commitments after the Gulf War to completely dismantle all weapons of mass destruction, and unfortunately, Iraq has not lived up to its agreement." - Barbara Boxer, November 8, 2002

    "The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retained some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capability. Intelligence reports also indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons, but has not yet achieved nuclear capability." - Robert Byrd, October 2002

    "There's no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat... Yes, he has chemical and biological weapons. He's had those for a long time. But the United States right now is on a very much different defensive posture than we were before September 11th of 2001... He is, as far as we know, actively pursuing nuclear capabilities, though he doesn't have nuclear warheads yet. If he were to acquire nuclear weapons, I think our friends in the region would face greatly increased risks as would we." - Wesley Clark on September 26, 2002

    "What is at stake is how to answer the potential threat Iraq represents with the risk of proliferation of WMD. Baghdad's regime did use such weapons in the past. Today, a number of evidences may lead to think that, over the past four years, in the absence of international inspectors, this country has continued armament programs." - Jacques Chirac, October 16, 2002

    "In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security." - Hillary Clinton, October 10, 2002

    "I am absolutely convinced that there are weapons...I saw evidence back in 1998 when we would see the inspectors being barred from gaining entry into a warehouse for three hours with trucks rolling up and then moving those trucks out." - Clinton's Secretary of Defense William Cohen in April of 2003

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

    What absolute nonsense. Even with Saddham Hussein, the President clearly asked for authority to attack Iraq and clearly received it, albeit after misleading Congress and the American people. He didn't use flimsy excuses to justify his authority to attack Iraq: he used flimsy evidence to obtain the authorization from Congress.
    As for Kyl-Lieberman, it doesn't contain ANYTHING LIKE permission to attack Iran in Iran much less a "blank check" to do so. Nor could it: a declaration of war or authorization to use force or anything of that kind requires an affirmative vote on a binding resolution by BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS.
    Should President Bush attempt to use Kyl-Lieberman to go to war against Iran, the least that will happen is that all the Republicans in danger of losing in the '08 cycle will finally desert him. Worst case: he will be impeached.
    Let's turn to the Kyl-Lieberman vote: I didn't hear Sen. Obama speak out against the second Kyl-Lieberman Resolution. And as for "flimsy excuses," his own reasons for ducking the Kyl-Lieberman vote will not bear scrutiny. Every other senator knew that there was a vote scheduled and ALL THE OTHER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES MANAGED TO BE THERE.
    Is telling many lies when you're behind part of the "politics of hope"? Because that would explain a lot.

    October 11, 2007 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  22. Common Sense

    @ PAT

    Maybe apples and oranges, but its still all fruit.

    And just in case you didn't realize what you said...

    "doesn't mean she handed Bush the same authority to rage war in Iran as she did with respect to Iraq."


    October 11, 2007 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  23. sonya, atlanta, ga

    Their are some shennigans going on in Congress. Obama was at the Senate the day before the Iranian vote. At that session, Reid tabled the Iranian ammendment vote "indefinately". Then the next day, while Obama was enroute to NH, Reid called the ammendment to the floor for a vote. Only giving Obama a hour notice. By the way, Reid's son works for Clinton.

    October 11, 2007 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  24. Patrick, New York, NY

    TO ALL OBAMA SUPPORTERS: Isnt this the same exact line that EDWARDS brought up in the last debate and has been saying for the past 2 weeks!! If Obama was so much against this resolution (I oppose it as well) HE SOULD HAVE HAD THE BALLS TO VOTE AGAINST IT..instead he didnt SHOW UP FOR THE VOTE..WHAT A HYPOCRITE!!!

    October 11, 2007 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  25. Pat, Huntington, NY

    Obama's flawed judgment rhetoric holds no water on resolutions for which he conveniently stayed away from the Senate and did not vote on. His' convenient absence when such issues are being voted on shows his lack of leadership, courage and judgment. At least Hillary had the courage to register a vote on the resolution.

    October 11, 2007 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
1 2 3 4 5