February 29th, 2008
09:05 PM ET
13 years ago

Clinton: Obama 'missing in action'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/02/29/art.hillary.ap.jpg caption=" Clinton is getting tough on Obama over national security issues."]WACO, Texas (CNN) - Hillary Clinton attempted to raise the stakes of the upcoming March 4 primaries Friday by forcefully calling into question Barack Obama's qualifications to become commander-in-chief.

At a rally in Waco, with more than two dozen military veterans and flag officers standing behind her, Clinton criticized Obama for being "missing in action" during key security decisions in the Senate and claimed that he had "no responsibility" when he gave an anti-war speech in 2002 as an Illinois state senator.

Her comments coincided with a new campaign ad released in Texas that asks voters who they want to answer the phone in the White House at 3 a.m. when "there's something happening in the world."

Obama criticized the ad earlier Friday, saying it was an attempt to "scare up votes."

Clinton disputed that notion in her speech Friday, saying, "Well I don't think people in Texas scare all that easily."

In a salvo against Obama that lasted several minutes, Clinton said, "There's a big difference between giving a speech at anti war rally as a state senator and dealing with an international crisis as president."

"There's a difference between giving a speech when you have no responsibility," she argued, "and having to step up and take charge and take the responsibility for your actions."

She charged that Obama was "missing in action" when he missed a Senate vote last year on a nonbinding resolution in that labeled the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization (Clinton voted for the measure and faced heat from Obama and other Democratic rivals for supporting a measure pushed by the Bush administration.)

She also said Obama was "missing in action" by failing in his chairmanship of a Senate subcommittee on Europe to hold a hearing on NATO's presence in Afghanistan, a fact she has emphasized in recent days on the campaign trail.

Gen. Wesley Clark, a Clinton supporter and the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, plugged the TV ad while introducing Clinton on stage and suggested that her tenure as First Lady prepared her to be president.

"She's been in the White House when the tough decisions were made," Clark said, looking over to Clinton. "I guess you've been at the bedside when that phone rang at 3 a.m. in the morning."

Clinton was joined at the event by three generals, including Clark, and a Navy Rear Admiral.

- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby

soundoff (546 Responses)
  1. Leo

    Hillary is resorting to desperate tactics that resemble Bush's... shes also turning not only Americans against her but people from other countries including Canada ... You had a joke of a president that used Fear for 8 years ...she is no better .

    Obama has not only Americans seeing hope for the USA but the rest of the world sees a bright future for the USA that his intelligent fresh common sense approach will bring ... its affects us all

    February 29, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  2. onepcnut

    I thought this was supposed to be a clean campaign, no dirty tactics. Come on Hillary by attacking the opposition in such an obvious manner you are really turning off the people who might have supported you. All you are doing is proving that when the going gets rough you panic, I don't see Obama "leaking" pictures to the media.

    February 29, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  3. Lizette

    She is telling her supporters that Obama is too busy campaigning while he has not met with the security Afghanistan committee. Yes Hillary, Afghanistan is what it is! The Taliban is back in town and Obama needs to campaign so you do not get the nomination. Is that too hard to comprehend? Are you missing a neuron?

    February 29, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  4. garry williams

    Hillary said yesterday that she "Denounce" and "Reject" the statements made by her supporter in TEXAS–Not Good Enough-
    She must Denounce and Reject the Supporter-lets play fair.

    February 29, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  5. michael

    How can Hillary say Obama is missing in action...what about you Hillary! I just have one question for you who will be the next President after '08 ....Chelsea?

    February 29, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  6. Jayson

    Most politicians are guilty of being MIA at one point in time because most of them don't take their responsibility to the constituents as seriously as they should.....

    February 29, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  7. B.J. for America!

    From: B.J. for America!

    Dear CNN,

    Give-it-up for Hillary! Give her some great coverage!! She needs to keep going after Obama’s record and he can cry Scare tactics all he wants! Maybe he is scared of his own record – that’s scary!

    I think it’s time to give credit to Senator Hillary Clinton where it’s due and that’s now. Your news reporters do not give fair and equal coverage to her. This is not a game your reporters are playing here. It is serious business and American lives are being turned upside down – our country is in BIG TROUBLE and therefore your station should stop the news manipulation. I really believe that your news station and reporters are pushing for an Obama Democratic Nominee.

    Look, we need someone who can Deliver and that someone is Senator Hillary Clinton. It's going to take Hillary Clinton to fix the Big, Big problems our beautiful America is facing.
    We the wonderful American people deserve a president who has the experience and who has the American people in mind first. We need Hillary Clinton in order to have a real chance at turning this economy around, in the direction it was in when former President Clinton was in office. And again, I know it is Senator Hillary Clinton whether your reporters like her or former president Bill Clinton or not! We The People of America were in much better shape financially when former president Clinton was in office!!!

    Although the candidates play down gender…well I'm not. We've had men presidents forever – I have nothing against men…I like them and get along with them, generally better than with women. BUT, IT'S TIME ALRIGHT…IT'S TIME FOR A WOMEN…A GOOD WOMAN, EXPERIENCED IN DOMESTIC and WORLD BUSINESS …and THAT'S HILLARY CLINTON!!

    CNN should be more positive about Hillary Clinton and give her a break on fair and just news reporting and stop down playing what she can do for The People of America, which include you.
    So please, make your news reports Win-Win…equal, fair and balanced!!

    B.J. for America…Hillary for President…Now…08!!

    February 29, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  8. bambino

    Very,very good responses to this, Looks like every one is getting informed on MRs Hillary's history and it's not looking to good for her.

    February 29, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  9. David L

    Obama really was missing in action when he was ashamed of his own middle name so much, yet he didn't put it into action to change his own middle name. Do you Obamanias believe in a guy who doesn't change that kinda little thing will change your lives? are you that naive?

    February 29, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  10. George J

    I am tired of all this back and forth nonsense. Do some research online on both canidates, (their records are public!!) instead of listening to all the hearsay. Both will say whatever it takes to get elected. I know one thing at least, all the Hillary supporters should read her book where she clearly says that N.A.F.T.A was good for N.Y. and the country and she supports it. So I guess I khow who I'm voting for......

    Obama 08 and Beyond

    February 29, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  11. plain jane



    HILLARY ...ANSWER THE PHONE...IT'S FOR YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 29, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  12. Robyn

    Go Hillary! You are the one for the job! I'll be voting for you.

    February 29, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  13. Sam

    Can we ask Bush how he handled the 3:00AM phone call? What kinda of ad is 3:00Am phone call?.....what about 9:00AM?.....does it reallly matter what time critical phone rings?...... It is all about making good Judgement.....

    Go Obama....You are smart man..........

    February 29, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  14. Louise

    Hillary I agree...It's easy to give a 'speech' about the war in Iraq when your 'speech' has little or no consequence. It's a much bigger thing to VOTE on this.

    I definitely feel that if that phone was ringing in the middle of the night I would much rather that Hillary answer it. She is a pragmatist as opposed to a blind optimist. I have nothing against hope....but it HAS to be grounded in reality.

    It's Hillary for me.

    February 29, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  15. Jaena from Boston

    hahaha....whatever. Clark did not just enter this picture. He was on stage with the other oldtimers when she gave her "I lost in Iowa" speech. He has been traveling with her. This is just a new wringle. Ask these military leaders if they supported Bill. Bill, as many military people will tell you, broke this mighty military machine that Reagan built. I'm a democrat who served 20+ years.....I know how our mighty force looked prior to Bill.... Many of these guys, including Clark, did not like what the Clintons did to our military. One got to wonder why they are supporting her now.

    BTW, we will soon see Colin Powell come out for Obama. Its coming....wait until the general election.

    February 29, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  16. Phil

    What foreign policy experience does Hillary have that she's the better candidate? What phone calls has she taken at 3 am? And it's hilarious that she's trying to raise the bar of expectation for her rival. She's the incumbent, for pity's sake. She's the one who's been negative from the beginning...

    February 29, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  17. Mike, Land O Lakes, FL

    Can someone tell me if the constitution requires a president must come from one of these two corrupted families (Bush/Clinton) so I can change my last name?

    February 29, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  18. MBB

    Regarding the new video about answering a phone at 3 AM – I guess Obama liked it so much he copied it and just added information that meant what? What about the SCARE it put into everyone!

    February 29, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  19. d4obama

    Is it becoming scary to anyone else that Hillary is acting extremely schizophrenic? Every day it's a new Hillary. Lock down the post offices when she loses...........

    February 29, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  20. vl

    Enough already! I can not believe how RUDE some people are on this blog. Facts are facts, and if you can't take the time to research, not just a candidates website, than you shouldn't vote. Without informed decisions we will end up just like we did 7 years ago when we ended up with our last great campaigner of "hope & change". Geeze, did so many of you really take stupid pills?

    I made my spouse a promise tonight (he's republican) that if Obama wins the nomination, I will, for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, vote republican. You people make me sick.

    February 29, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  21. Cathy

    You ain't seen nothing yet. Wait until the republicans get a hold of Obama. They will come at him hard.....mentioning Larry Sinclair, Resko, the investigation of his church by the IRS.......and on and on

    February 29, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  22. Uniter, the Divider

    My last day as a democrat will be the day Obama becomes the nominee. All this talk of uniting the United States and hope and blah blah, look what happened, he ended up dividing his own party. Democrats were never divided as they are now, not during Clinton, not during Carter, actually never before were democrats so against the other candidate. And I bet it would have not happened if it were anybody but Obama. So, my point is that Obama is the divider.

    Fanstay and fairytale are two beautiful words, and they are worth boloney. In real world experience matters the most. So I am choosing experience this election instead of boloney. And I will vote for McCaine if not Hillary.

    February 29, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  23. anonymous

    CNN and MSNBC are grossly biased against Clinton and CNN and MSNBC are afraid to criticize Obama and have refused to subject him to the same scrutiny as other candidates. Obama has DONE NOTHING for Ilinois - NOTHING! We have lost jobs in droves and HE HAS DONE NOTHING. Obama claims to be the man of change – yet he has DONE NOTHING for Illinois where he was elected Senator. His record as Senator in Illinois – is lack of change – NOTHING!

    February 29, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  24. Ryan

    At one point in time I considered voting for Clinton, but her campaign has been all over the place and seems to be throwing out what it can just to survive the next round. Clinton and Obama are both more qualified than Bush ever was. If experience was the real issue, then candidates like Richardson, Biden, and Dodd would have been able to continue longer than they did.

    February 29, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  25. lw

    Hillary is great ! She is powerful ! She is Strong ! She is unbeatable !

    February 29, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
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