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. bimmer

    Obama is also a drug user, a plagiarizer and a crook who took money from a slumlord to pay for his house. And he is an agent of change. Where is the outrage?

    February 29, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  2. Beverly

    Hillary is right. I would not want Obama as Commander in Chief, to much is at stake in all that we know and all that we do not know.

    February 29, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  3. T&T 4 OBAMA

    Trinidad & Tobago, the richest and most powerful nation in the Caribbean supports Barack Obama for President, and would like to see him present at the Summit of the Americas in 2009 hosted in Trinidad & Tobago.

    OBAMA to WIN

    February 29, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  4. T Mitchell

    Senator Clinton needs to take responsibility for her decision to go to war. Since she is not willing to take responsibility for her actions now, she will not take responsibility as commander-in-chief.

    When the phone rang at 3am Senator Clinton made the wrong decision, a decision that she should take full responsibility.

    February 29, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  5. WJ

    Hillary supporters need to acknowledge the reality of the situation: Hillary has lost this race – she would need to landslide the remaining contests and that is not going to happen. Please realise that the best way to meet Hillary's goals for the country is to vote for Obama in the general election – Hillary will have an important role to play in a democratic administration and, who knows, possibly in 2016 and beyond as commander in chief.

    February 29, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  6. Juanita

    Hilary, being Hilary, can do no other than disappoint us the electorate. It would certainly help the party if she were to go gracefully into the night and retire to do "good works".

    February 29, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  7. Shawn - Ohio

    Will she just give up? The lady is full of shXt! She was not co-president...a co-president does not have her partner get head from an intern. You are a joke Hilary. If you are really for change in America...give up! You do not represent change...you represent what is wrong with politics in America. Special Interest money = the Clinton's best friend...show us your tax return!

    February 29, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  8. Eric S

    Right on! Hillary all the way to the whitehouse.

    February 29, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  9. sarah

    All talk and no action is missing in action. he touts a speech in 2002 then doesn't stand up for his own beliefs and he has proven that time and time again: Iraq war vote, no show on Iran vote, missed votes, mistaken votes, Exelon, Rezko, Ayers, etc.

    Hillary 08!!

    February 29, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  10. Cindy

    Hello Janet Reno, Thanks for the support. Can you get the whole of Waco to vote for Hillary. That would be great. Sure wish you could. I will like to shut down the Hillary haters.

    February 29, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  11. Closely Watching

    I am impressed by how quickly she got dressed when the phone rang at 3 am. I can afford to be glib as CNN rarely prints my posts.

    February 29, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  12. steveo

    What happened Branco is that a few large corporations have taken over mainstream media in this country.
    That is why the public in this country often did not have a clue about Bush when the rest of the world did.

    February 29, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  13. Antonio

    Wake Up And Smell The Coffee! said...
    I think that it is about time that we had a woman President! Hillary is very qualified to lead the country. However, the discrimination of sexism might prevent her from winning the nomination.

    Remember when two men stood in the crowd and began screaming, "Iron my shirt!" before one of her appearances before the New Hampshire primary. Why didn't the media jump all over such sexism.

    I venture to say that had these two men yelled, Pick my cotten!" at one of Obama's appearances before the New Hampshire primary, the media and everyone else would have been yelling racism.

    Listen up ladies! This is your moment. Your time has arrived! Sieze the moment! Take advantage of it! You might have to wait your turn again. That could mean forty-three more Presidents. If you are willing to wait that long, go ahead and vote for Obama.

    Obama talks about change! As a male, I also want to see change in Washington. I want to see a qualified woman like Hillary lead our country.

    Obama might be African-American, however, the oval office will still be in the hands of another male president.

    Is that change? No! It is politics as usual. However, it is only the skin color that will be changing.

    Ladies, it is you who can propel Hillary to the White House. If you cannot do this, you should quit telling your daughter that they can be doctors, pilots, etc. If you are a female who echos the male sexist jargon such as, "Hillary is pushy!" you had better tell your daughters, grand-daughters that they should be nurses and flight attendants.

    Remeber: "A house divided amongst itself, cannot stand."

    Likewise: "Women divided amongst themselves, do not stand a chance in electing the first female President."

    Antonio In Wisconsin

    February 29, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  14. DScott

    How's McCain going to feel about this use of the term MIA? Wonder how those retired officers at her event really felt about it. Guess it never crossed her mind. Obama's the one I want to be answering the phone at the White House in the future.

    February 29, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  15. Heh

    Hillary knows she can't stop the O-Train

    February 29, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  16. Pat-Texas

    Texas for Hillary

    February 29, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Shame on you Hilary

    It is unbelievable that she used the term Missing In Action to highlight a Senator missing a meeting in Washington. She said she is prepared on day 1 to be our Commander in Chief, yet she has absolutely no respect for our Soldiers who are missing in action, and their families, awaiting their return, or waiting for information on what happened to their loved ones. The audacity, the insensitivity of Hilary to mock our MIA's, If she hadn't lost my vote before, she certainly lost it now.
    Shame on her.

    February 29, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  18. Reality check

    Hillary was working in politics, fighting for the poor, the children, and the veterans when Obama was taking his first steps, across water ofcourse. Vote expierence, vote Hillary.

    February 29, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  19. alexis compton

    Nothing can stop the voices of millions wanting for change not even smear campaigns.

    February 29, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  20. emmy

    i love America..it is the only country i have..protect it...vote for Hillary Clinton

    February 29, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  21. Scott

    It seems Senator Obama is a greater orator, a great motivator....but does this in itself qualify you to lead the free world?

    What of substance has Senator Obama done while in the Senate? I don't seem to recall him being considered a leader in the Senate.

    As an independent, I was genuinely hoping that the democrats would select a candidate worthy to be the next President. However, it appears that a sizeable portion of the party may be ready to select style over substance. This isn't to say that being able to motivate is unimportant, but before being elected President, I think you need to demonstrate experience in turning that into real effective leadership.

    Being the President is not solely about making the next great speech.
    Your decisions affect the lives of hundreds of Millions, if not a couple Billion people.

    If Obama wins the nomination, I'm far more likely to support McCain as at least there is a long history of knowing where he stands. With Obama, we don't really know what we get.

    The country has too many challenges (War, Terrorism, Economy, Debt, emergence of China/India) to take any chances. If I want to see a great sermon, I'll go to my church, and if I want to be motivated, I'll watch a Tony Robbins video.

    February 29, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  22. Bayou Joe

    We need Hillary or McCain answering the phone in the oval office,
    All you Obama supporters complain about this latest ad by Hillary because it is the truth and the truth hurts. She is better qualified to deal with international issues than this upstart professional politician. No Experience for the toughest job in the universe.
    Go Hillary. If you don't win the nomination I am voting for McCain.

    February 29, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Since when does sleeping with someone qualify as experience? If that's the case, we should be voting Lewinsky '08...

    February 29, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  24. Josh

    Well, now it sounds like she was for the war. But wasn't she against it? or for it? I'm confused. In New York, she's against it, in Texas, the president stands up and takes responsibility, so she's for it.hmmm........

    February 29, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  25. QuietStormX

    All I have to say. Where are Hillary Clinton White House records and papers to show all this experience she claimed. First Lady has no job but smiling and throwing parties. Plus, where are those TAX records and where did that money come from?

    February 29, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22