December 22nd, 2007
11:10 AM ET
14 years ago

Richardson: Clinton has 'flip-flopped' on Iraq

Richardson: Clinton is trying to "duck and weave."

AMES, Iowa (CNN) ­– Bill Richardson is now the latest Democratic presidential candidate to accuse Hillary Clinton of drastically changing her position on Iraq this week. “She’s flip-flopped so many times, I don’t know what her position is. It changes almost every day,” Richardson told CNN Friday.

Richardson, who is running a distant fifth among Democrats in Iowa in most polls - with the state's first-in-the-nation caucuses less than two weeks away - has stepped up his attacks on the rest of the presidential field in recent days.

Clinton has long maintained that even after most U.S. troops have been pulled out of Iraq, some troops would have to remain there - and that they could be there for several years.

But at a town hall event in Elkader, Iowa on Wednesday, Clinton told a crowd she had consulted with military advisors on Iraq and that “I think we can bring nearly everybody home, certainly within a year if we keep at it and do it very steadily.”

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards has characterized those comments as a policy shift. On Friday, Richardson agreed, saying that Clinton was trying to "outflank" him. "I’ve got an ad that says ‘are you going to get all the troops out by 2013?’” And so she’s trying to duck and weave.”

“I do know she wants to keep troops beyond one year,” said Richardson, “and I want her to explain her position.”

The Clinton camp disagrees with that assessment, and has responded to the criticism by saying the New York senator has always maintained a need for “small residual force” to remain in Iraq after most U.S. troops have left, and called for a slow but steady pace of withdrawal.

- CNN's Alexander Marquardt and Rebecca Sinderbrand


Filed under: Bill Richardson • Hillary Clinton • Iowa
soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. Rick, NY

    Wake up America. The possiblity of Clinton winning the White House means 24 years of control by two political families. If she gets re-elected that's 28. OVER A QUARTER CENTURY of control.

    How is it that Vladimir Putin comes under so much scrutiny as he still clings to power in Russia. The SAME THING IS HAPPENING HERE.

    But we have a democratic system here. Oh right. Skewed polls, biased media, illegal campaign donations, lobbyist control, spin, etc. all designed to sway voter opinion.

    Can't wait for the Vote for Jeb in 16 campaign.

    December 22, 2007 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  2. Molly; Muscatine, Iowa

    QUOTING: (it will be Vilsack if Hillary wins the nomination as that would guarantee Ohio)

    Perhaps you were referring to Iowa, as Tom Vilsack was a successful governor of Iowa, not Ohio.

    As for Hillary's candidacy, I fear her presence on the ticket. Regardless of what Ivory Tower theorists may think, she is indeed a divisive force in American politics. Furthermore, her personal ambition is stronger than her committment to fair governance, in my opinion. She is far and away the most "hawkish" of the current Democratic field, and would be the most 'status quo' of those running for president.

    Bill Richardson will not win the Iowa caucuses and his role in the campaign post-January 3rd will be as a running mate at best, Cabinet member most likely.

    December 22, 2007 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  3. Bob, Alexandria, VA

    Ron Anderson:

    Holy c***, you don't honestly believe what you wrote? Do you really believe Hillary's changing views are a reflection of new information that was withheld from here? Wrong...she is a poll reader, like her husband. When there was a concensus to depose Saddam, she was a hawk. When the war dragged on and the monday morning quarterbacks got their nerve to speak up when it appeared there was popular dissention, they altered their views. That was when these idiots, including Hillary, started justifying there NEW position on the war by saying Bush lied to them as well as to the American people. In my book, that shows a complete lack of character, conviction and backbone. Hillary would not be a leader with conviction...she would lead by referendum. Not something I want to see in a President.

    December 22, 2007 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  4. Andy, New York, New York

    Doesn't Bill Richardson know by now that Hillary Clinton will say and do anything to get elected? She backed the war in Iraq because it was something she discussed with her husband who also openly supported the war in Iraq. When the liberal and leftwing media had their field day roasting and toasting Bush over the suicide bombers and IEDs that slaughtered US troops to influence the tide of public opinion against the war and Bush, Hillary tried to shift position. Now that the war is winnable and Bush is looking good, the media are left to look for destroyed CIA tapes to make news or Dems showing up to block Bush from making recess appointments, and Hillary is left to find her way to the White House looking like a flip flopper. If Hillary gets elected, look for a marriage of convenience between her and leftwing media to turn America into a socialist state.

    December 22, 2007 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  5. RuthieM

    He has to call her out if she's flipflopping, and she's flipflopping because it's only weeks before caucus. I'm surprised she hasn't said she'll have every single troop home by January 4, '08. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

    December 22, 2007 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  6. John, Richmond, VA

    Sorry Moe...it's perfectly clear that Hillary will side with Corporate America and do things like raise the minimum wage and increase entitlements, which would be a huge mistake, because then the costs would be passed to the consumer and taxpayers, further increasing the cost of living and sending the economy down for the working class. We need a candidate that will work on the root cause of the economic failure which is the cost of living being too high and unequal opportunity, not minimum wages being too low. She and Bill chose to support the worst program ever to affect American workers (NAFTA) over health care reforms. What makes you think their loyalty has switched to the middle class? Just what has Hillary accomplished during "her whole life" to help the middle class? Go check the record and see for yourself. If the American voters don't stop voting on emotion or gut feelings and start using their heads were stuck with these kind of politicians forever.

    December 22, 2007 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  7. Katherine, Chesapeake Virginia

    I wish the media would wise up and realize how much stronger Richardson and Biden are than Hilary and Obama. It is a shame that disgusting amounts of money must be raised and spent for the media to consider a candidate 'top tier' and 'front-running'. If equal attention had been given to all candidates up front, America would see the excellent qualifications of Richardson and Biden instead of the media smoke screen creations of their favorites. Both Richardson and Biden speak more clearly, articulately, and wisely about every major issue.

    December 22, 2007 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  8. Kevin, Eau Claire, WI

    I read this as "Clinton wears flip-flops to Iraq", but mostly due to lack of respect for Republican campaigners. Could equally be read as "Richardson disinformation campaign in full force."

    December 22, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  9. Dan, TX

    Clinton is not electable. Look at the head to head matchup polls with republicans. Richardson is more electable than Clinton.

    Clinton supported going to war with Iraq and still thinks she was right to vote for war. It's bad to make that mistake, but it's much worse not to realize you've made a mistake.

    December 22, 2007 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  10. Nick Wilson, Richardson, TX

    Where are all these automatons supporting Hillary Clinton coming from? I really don't know anybody who thinks she's an honest person or anything more than the archetypal politician who will say or do anything to get elected.

    Seriously, do you read anything about Hillary? She's in bed with her special interests as much as any Republican; she shared Bush's foreign policy until it became politically inconvenient to do so; she's far less experienced than Richardson, Biden or Dodd or even Obama (who has been an elected public servant longer than her); she's proven corrupt repeatedly over her time in the spotlight.

    And why does everybody think that the fact that she is a woman is so important? We should be choosing people based upon their leadership skills, their competency and their honesty, not their chromosomes. Someday, the right person will be a woman. But this is one of the last female politicians in America I'd vote for.

    If forced at gunpoint to choose between Republicans or Democrats, I would probably choose Democrats. But I will never EVER vote for Hillary, the socialist neoconservative – the worst combination possible. Sadly, most of the Republicans are as bad as her (barring Ron Paul.)

    December 22, 2007 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  11. Humgrad, Iowa City, IA

    I'm glad that attention is beginning to be drawn to the rampant flip-flops among many of the presidential candidates. With Sen. Clinton's ever-changing positions on the war, Sen. Edward's well-known switch in positions on the war, Giuliani's changes on abortion and immigration and guns, Gov. Huckabee's changes on immigration and taxes and fiscal conservatism, why is the media so obsessed with labeling Mitt Romney a flip-flopper, as though he is the only one? Isn't changing from pro-choice to pro-life a good thing? Did the media give Al Gore a hard time when he went from pro-life to pro-choice? Some elements in the media act as though Gov. Romney's supposed "flip-flopping" is a liability for his presidential campaign. Then isn't it also a liability for a host of others?

    GO MITT 2008!

    December 22, 2007 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. Travis Medford,Oregon

    If you want a decent candidate who knows foreign policy backwards and forwards and a candidate that all the other candidates like and admire and if you want a candidate who can bring in the crossover voters and win in the general election JOE BIDEN is your candidate.

    December 22, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  13. Brian, Syracuse NY

    To the Clinton campaign worker posting that Sasso article in every topic: Don't quit your day job! Hillary's going down in the primaries!

    December 22, 2007 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  14. Kevin,FL

    ZIP IT BILL BEFORE YOU LOOSE YOUR SHOT AT BEING SECY.OF STATE

    December 22, 2007 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  15. jmaya, iowa

    Poor Richardson, no money to advertise and his campaign's best strategy is to hit Hillary and run. He made me laugh!

    Hillary is the clear winner; Bill Richardson should have shut his mouth to get something. Hillary has the best strategy and plan to bring out troops home Mr Richardson!
    Hillary '08

    December 22, 2007 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  16. Paul, Alexandria, VA

    Hillary voted for the war. Then, Hillary defended the war, even though she later claimed that she was actually opposed to the war from the beginning.

    Over the course of the campaign, she has said she would end the war and bring everyone home; end the combat against nationalist groups but continue combat missions against Al Qaeda in Iraq; leave our new monster Embassy and all our new bases in place, while taking nearly everyone home but the thousands it would take to run and protect those sites, not pledge to get our troops out by 2013; and now pledge to get NEARLY everyone out in a year. That word NEARLY leaves a hole so big you could drive Bill Clinton's definition of the word "is" through it.

    Hillary still won't tell us what her position is on Social Security reform; she has an everchanging position on Iraq; and she still hasn't apologized for her war vote or for her support for high-priced lobbyists to control Washington.

    I'd have to vote for her against a Republican because they are truly crazy but will people really be inspired to vote for her and make the extra effort in the general? I doubt it. She's just another politician.

    Obama '08!

    December 22, 2007 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  17. Bill, NY

    Who is Bill Richardson? Never mind. Don't really care...

    December 22, 2007 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  18. GRACE, SUN CITY CENTER, FL

    MY CANDIDATE IS RON PAUL....

    BUT I WOULD FEEL BETTER INFORMED IF I
    KNEW MORE ABOUT RICHARDSON. I WISH HE
    HAD MORE MEDIA COVERAGE.

    December 22, 2007 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  19. J. McKinney SW MO

    I can't believe ANYONE with any judgement at all thinks Hillary is a flip flopper. We sure don't need anyone who is incapable of changing what they would do, as the situation changes. We sure don't need anyone who is so hard-headed and "one-way" that they can't change when change is needed. Surely everyone realizes there is NO WAY that ALL troops can be out of Iraq in a year.
    I am amazed at Richardson. I really thought he was wanting to be Hillary's vice pres., and I was thinking he would be a good one, but now he is attacking her stand on Iraq, and I am sure he knows better–that all the troops can't be out in a year. I don't know what happened to him, but he must know he doesn't have a chance of winning the election, and now he has screwed up his chances as VP, I imagine. We need Hillary!!

    December 22, 2007 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  20. Captain-Sky

    Do You Stupid A– People Know You Just Can't Start A Troop Withdrawal At The Snap Of A Finger,How About We Just Withdraw Every Single Troop Out Of Iraq And Say Let's Just Let Osama Bin Laden & Iran Take Over A Billion Dollar Oil Enriched Nation,What Maybe Do You Think They Will Do Forget About The US,I Don't Think So.All Of You Troop Withdrawal Experts,Has To Understand War Is Not Pretty,It Never Has And It Never Will Be,People Die Yes Our People To That's The Reality Of War Get Used To It.It Is Why The US Is The Only SuperPower Left.Because Our Military Has Fought For Over A Century To Keep America Free,You Can Believe That Crap Obama,& Richardson Are Shooting You If You Want,But I Gurantee You Those Troops Will Be In Iraq Until The US Has A Viable Solution.I'am Not A Bush Fan But At Least He Knows The Difference Between Fighting Until The End As Opposed To We Want Out Of Iraq,Guess What You Are Not In Iraq,And Most Of You Never Served In The Military,But You Have All The Solutions.Support President Bush He Is Your President Like It Or Not.BTW This Is Not Only Bushes Fault Whenever Those Building's Were Attacked,More Than 75% Of The Public Wanted A Quick Response,And Now That Those Building's Is No Longer On You Anti-War Mongers,You Want Troop Withdrawal,How About Asking The Military Troops What They Want For A Change,And Not People Who Know Nothing About Military Withdrawal,Except That They Believe That S–T Obama Is Trying To Sell The People Of The US,No Lapel For Me...Obama,No Hand On My Heart,Is This Getting Through To You Morons.

    December 22, 2007 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  21. AJ, IL

    Bill is right, unfortunately he is too late. Hillary's position on getting troops out of Iraq has been very convoluted. This was brought out during the Oct. 31st Democratic debate (in which Hillary imploded). Unfortunately, for Bill, he was too busy saying Obama, Edwards, and Dodd were "ganging-up" on Hillary at this debate on issues such as Iraq troop levels. Sorry, Bill. Its too in the caucaus game for Bill to start selectively target individuals on certain national issues. Obama and Edwards have already raised this Iraq issue distinction to Hillary.

    I guess Bill found out he was out of the running to be Hillary's consideration for a potential VP.

    OBAMA in '08!

    December 22, 2007 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  22. Jeff, Baton Rouge, LA

    BOO RICHARDSON! The whole field of candidates stinks. This election is disheartening for so many voters like myself. I think that Obama is the voice for the younger generation, but he's too green. I would never vote for a trial lawyer so the other viable Dems are out of the question. The Repugnants have little to choose from, because they care less about the Constitution than preaching from the bible. I'm all about morals and ethics, but come on, this crap is all about capturing votes in the slave states, oops, I mean Red States .

    The young in America will have to live with the foul-ups of the Bush Administration and the bandaid that the next inept president will place on said foulups for the rest of their lives.

    It's a scary time to be a young adult. My parents and grandparents' generations saw America grow and prosper and largely(not completely!) make a positive impact on the world, but the future is grim for my generation. We are at odds with two of our largest sources of petroleum(Mideast and Chavez-land)but corporate interests in the energy sector make sure legislation remains unchanged. We can't buy Cuban cigars, or even visit the island so near to our coast that, although closed, is a fairly transparent regime. However, the great American success story of all time, Wal-Mart, continues to keep the clandestine Communist China afloat by importing BILLIONS of poisonous plastic crap. Our manufacturing sector is going to crap because we care about the well being and safety of our workers and can't have a level playing field with third-world manufacturers who can make it cheaper by cutting corners.

    At 27 years old, this is the third election that I've been able to vote in. Formerly liberal(as to not be associated with Bushtard), I believe the the Republican platform, in its truest form, promotes individual responsibility, individual prosperity, free and responsible markets, etc. Too bad all it cares about now is guns, God, and gays. The most fiscally irresponsible administration in history has blown up our deficit how much?

    The first two times I voted "anybody but Bush", now I have to make a real decision. Ron Paul is the only candidate that I would even consider, yet he is chastised for actually knowing and believing the intent of the Constitution. The rest of them: I wouldn't spit i their mouths if they were dying of thirst.

    December 22, 2007 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  23. Greg, Barrington, IL

    The classic mantra of the desperate: "He/She flipflopped!!" Saves one the trouble of formulating one's own strategy or position. Does this really work? Given the intelligence quotient of the average American voter (even among Democrats) maybe it does..

    December 22, 2007 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  24. Jeff, BRLA

    Captain-Sky–
    Two Words–Grammar, Punctuation. It was like reading something in spanish, I only understood the main idea, but the details were a little sketchy.

    Also, blindly supporting Bush is a pretty foolish thing to do. The freedom to speak up is one of those freedoms that you R's often speak of, but it's the first to go when you hear something you don't like. Here's a quote from a true patriot:
    “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then.”

    Judging by the way you write, you read very little. You should try it sometime.

    December 22, 2007 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  25. Jon, Kansas City MO

    Bill who?

    December 22, 2007 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
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