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

Clinton: Obama 'missing in action'

 Clinton is getting tough on Obama over national security issues.

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. mike

    Rush Repub.s For Hillary!

    February 29, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  2. athy

    Sen. Clinton, we are so proud of you and how you are handling this campaign. Stay strong and know that there are millions of people that are supporting you.

    February 29, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  3. Joshua College Station Texas

    Why does she want to be President so much? Her words and actions say it all: ambition, greed, and pride. Where is decency? Where is the calmness of confidence in a positive message? Where is concern for the party while she wildly swings her ax? She is desperate and low, and all the more shrill. Stop! Stop being so destructive as you claw for this nomination. It's not worth it! There is nothing chauvinistic about it. Her leadership is bad for this country.

    February 29, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  4. mike

    Barry's just missing.....

    February 29, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  5. mir

    ON youtube, in his own words, Obama said in 2004 that he would not seek presidential office because he couldn't, not having spent a day in the senate. So, 365×2 makes it all better? With the 3rd spent campaigning. Then has the AUDACITY to say he opposed the war duing a U.S. senate campaign, which he won against...Republican Alan Keyes who was a warm body the party put up cause no one else wanted to run for Fitzgerald's position. And no one ran on the dem side. So great, his stance was more like a memo to Illinois, a blip, not exactly an alarm, or anything even against the wave at the time. Obama.. your wearing thin and starting to become see thru.

    February 29, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  6. KLT

    It's rarely convenient for Obama to talk in detailed terms about policy. He doesn't seem that keen on answering tricky questions either. The majority of Obama's responses in the last debate seem to have been 'I agree with Hillary.' So what will he say when the phone rings at 3am? Lord knows.

    February 29, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  7. Anne McNeff

    Will the Clintons please go away...enough with their lies, deception, power-hungry personalities....Go back to their back-water state of Arkansas...and fade into the sunset...

    February 29, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  8. Stephen

    Many of us were against the war to begin with. This does not qualify us all to be president

    February 29, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  9. MARIA 2325


    February 29, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  10. Stuck in Texas

    Clinton has totally has disgusted me in this last ditch effort to spin herself into the nomination. Obama has to sweep now for her to drop out? Please. Negative ads? Vitriolic speeches? Bill the attack dog?

    There is no way I will EVER vote for Hillary Clinton. She is destroying the party. If she does win, I will go McCain like so many others have stated.

    All you Hillary fans that talk in capital letters with lots of !!!!! She is not going to be president.

    February 29, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  11. Nick F.

    Both Clinton and Obama are intelligent progressives whose differences on issues and in experience are greatly exaggerated. I hope HRC loses for two reasons. First, I believe she is less likely to win in November. And if she is the nominee she will almost certainly re-focus and reinvigorate the opposition which, right now, is so demoralized that its having trouble even getting united behind McCain. Democrats have a golden opportunity to create a progressive majority in America, and it would be a tragedy if we blow it. So: Obama '08!

    February 29, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  12. Joe

    Missing in Action – Tax Returns?

    February 29, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  13. Stephen

    You have to realize that Hillary is saving the DNC with these adds. Obama is the definition of buyers remorse. His popularity has peaked, and I believe many people already wish they could have their vote back

    February 29, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  14. Dawn Wade

    Barrack is just another civil rights leader he is not ready to run the country. I for you Hillary and i have many others. YOU GO HILL!!!!!

    February 29, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  15. KC, Dallas Texas

    People always use her vote for sending troops to Iraq to deny all her achievements. It's Bush who abused the authority to keep troops in Iraq until. That's not the intention of all 90% American supporters for this decision back then. So, folks, please be fair. She is much more qualified than Obama for the White House.

    Even McCain is better than Obama. If you want a wild ride for America, otherwise vote for Hillary!

    Hillary for president!!!

    February 29, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  16. TexanJim

    I can't believe how many Obama sheep buy into his "judgement one day one" nonsense. He simply did NOT vote on going or not going to war. He was NOT a US Senator at the time (2002). We do not know how he would have voted if he had been in the US Senate in the same position being given the same confidential information that Hillary and the other Senators were given. The fact is, he simply gave one of his glitter rock star fluffy speeches at an anit-war rally. However, what we do know is when he became a US Senate he did, in fact, vote the same as Hillary when it came to the Iraq War. So, please get all the facts straight before you continue drinking his kool-aide. I would feel totally safe and secure with Hillary as a commander and chief and would NOT with Obama. Go Hillary 08!

    February 29, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  17. Z-man

    hilary is horrible,desperate, and scared of losing thats why now she's focusing on making OBAMA look as bad as possible but he keeps his cool and attacks back, but in his speeches he hasnt randomly pointed out hilari's inperfection(not as frequently as hilare'ss)
    Obama is the kind of person that would sacrifise himself to let you live
    hilari is the kind taht kick ya when your down
    WHAT 30! years of experience being the President's wife doesn't make you qualified for the job! Bill(clinton)has seen papers she;s never seen done things she's never done..

    February 29, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  18. Sean, Santa Barbara, CA

    The people who say Hillary or McCain in "08" kind of help prove Obamas point of Clinton pretty much being an undercover pro-war Republican.

    Hillary = McCain

    February 29, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  19. Donovan

    Please stop giving Hillary this media coverage on these ridiculous statements. Look at the comment board. You are just encouraging the already rampant racism that still exists in this country. To take a quote from Hillary, Shame on you CNN. Shame on you.

    February 29, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  20. Sean, Santa Barbara, CA

    In the words of our current president

    "HE HE HE" *smirk on face

    February 29, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  21. Ken

    Mr. Obama says that he opposed the war from the beginning, but when the vote was taken, what platform was his objection taken from?

    February 29, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  22. liephobe

    Hi Madam Hillary!!!!
    What's up???
    ohhh I know: You've been running for president??? You must be very thirsty desperate lady...I 've got an idea, a good one.....What about a cup of power??? Drink some and leave us alone!!!!

    Hillary, you have to run 8 more years before entering the white house to answer that red phone so you can be spinning on your head.

    Than you Hillary for reading my precious note, it will give you strengh to retire!!!

    February 29, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  23. Normal Joe

    I would rather vote McCain if Obama gets the nomination. I can no longer stand to hear him.

    Hill 08

    February 29, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  24. Mike

    Sure he wasn't in the Senate when he made that speech..... He had the courage to make that speech in the middle of an election. He risked loosing an election to stand up for what he knew was right from day one. Sure it was a speech, a speech that was the begining of a consistant stance on the War in Iraq, he didn't change his mind, he doesn't have regrets about how he saw the war in the begining, he has maintained the same views from day one. Wake up people, can't you see her personal agenda behind this campaign? Polls show that Obama is clearly the candidate that can eliminate the Republican Machine in November, if you want true change, vote Obama on March 4th.

    February 29, 2008 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  25. Kim, Sacramento, CA

    How can anyone still possibly support her? Between this, all of her other shenigans, her threat to sue Texas over the way they run their primary, wanting to seat the MI and FL delegates even though the state parties knew the rules and the fact that she has no problem with superdelegates choosing the President... Can people not see that Hillary Clinton will do and say anything as long as she gets elected President regardless of the damage that she causes to the Democratic party and the country? Two years ago I was a Hillary supporter – I am glad that I woke up.

    February 29, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
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