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. Mike

    I think this is another strategy that will not work. Why? Because Clinton has still not realised that typical campaign tactics work only because people are not paying proper attention and they can't 'see' the cogs and wheels behind each strategy. Normally, they just hear the message and absorb it without too much crtical analysis. This year however, as the voting indicates, Democratics have paid attention. Obvious changes in strategy such as this one are just too easily recognised and are seen as strategies not genuine messages. Obama has never changed his overall message, he appears genuine and his tactics have always been subtle invisible. Sorry Hillary, this is the one year the normal science of winning an election doesn't apply, people are onto it...

    February 29, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  2. Charlie

    So let me get this straight. Hillary is saying experince is what matters (she only has 7 years). So what happens when she face McCain wit hmore expeirince and who is 10 times more qualified to be commander in chief. Looks to me like another case of saying whatever it takes to win.

    February 29, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  3. Papa Rotsee

    bill richardson needs to grow a pair. Nobody is interested in who, if anybody, he's endorsing anymore. The honeymoon is over. He wants to be non-committal playing coy. That behaviour is reserved for dames being courted by men.

    February 29, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  4. gizmo

    Here's a question I would like to put forth to the Clinton supporters who say that "If Obama answered the phone at 3 a.m. he'd have to hang up and call clinton for advice." So here's my question: Which would you perfer a president who answers the phone at 3 a.m. and says "Bomb 'em" without consulting anyone or would you perfer a president who would say "Let's get everyone to gether to discuss how the best way would be to approach this?" If you ask me I'd rather have a prez who seeks out the advice of others before taking action then someone who doesn't. So your argument that he'd need to ask someone for advise doesn't make any sense. Isn't that what the president is suppose to do, seek advise from his advisors?

    February 29, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  5. RicRoe

    When it comes to my vote, I want someone who is not married to political division, revenge and derision.

    When it comes to my vote, I want it to count for the candidate that will bring a new approach to Washington.

    When it comes to my vote, I do not want someone who has made a career of opposition politics.

    When it comes to my vote, I want a candidate that owes no favors to special interest groups.

    When it comes to my vote, its as simple as ABC..... Anyone But Clinton.

    February 29, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  6. felix

    Hillary, my household of three are all for you. Thank you future Madam President.

    February 29, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  7. Papa Rotsee

    Fix the border. Erect a wall (circa Berlin) and take back our country.

    February 29, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  8. Freddy

    I can see Hillary Clinton writing some of these comments. These are so repetitive and really, some of these comments dont look or sound like what we've been seeing in rallies and in other forums. It was about time that her followers started to call each other to make comments here, it was becoming a little boring to see how much Obama have accomplished.

    If being next to the president makes you an expert, then the whole cabinet should run for president. We need someone who can bring the nation together... and she has proven no to be ready to do that.

    Its going to be interesting to see what her reaction will be if she looses in TX and OH.

    February 29, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  9. Patricia

    Ok i know this will not be posted and it will say closed to comment



    The debates have shown me what he knows and that is
    I agree with Hillary.


    February 29, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  10. Experience over Rhetoric

    On "day one" Obama will need to be fitted for training wheels.

    We're voting with our hearts and our minds. Hillary all the way!

    February 29, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |

    We need someone who can make the tough decisions based on facts, not emotions. Hillary is our woman.

    February 29, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  12. Mrs. America

    Sen. Clinton is certainly right. I don't understand why people don't see things like that. It's like people are blinded by Obama's star power.

    So, now we've got a "regular guy" everybody thought would be neat to have a beer with in the WH (no matter that GWB is an alcoholic and most people knew it), and next we'll have someone there on star power.

    I used to be equally supportive of Hillary and Barack but no more. He ducks issue after issue so he doesn't have to show judgment. He is simply not qualified, but he'll probably get the nomination because he's cool. So disheartening. I hope Hillary can pull this off. We need her.

    February 29, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  13. John

    Like it or not,Hillary is the winner at the end of the euphoria that is sinking faster than the global ice mountains of the Arctic and the opposite partner.Insults dont stick,It is facts and solutions,and not to forget- Expertise in all fields of being a President.Hillary GOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! January 2009,Here we come.

    February 29, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  14. Mandi Locke

    Hillary's campaign is in major crisis and she has responded in a very frantic way to that reality. I knew it was in crisis the moment she started to lose her cool every other day, the moment her lies started to become more and more obvious, the more she resorted to whining and the moment she started playing on America's fears to win over votes. We've had those same sorry scare tactics for the last seven years and we see right through it. How does Hiilary deal with crisis? She's like the mother who is so busy scolding her daughter for playing with matches that she forgets to call an ambulance. Irrational behovior equals irrational decisions. Period.

    February 29, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  15. Marlon

    The point is that Obama's immediate judgment is more sound than Clinton's. In this dangerous world we live in we need someone who can listen to the voice on the other end of the phone and not make an aggressive snap decision, rather than someone who will decide and charge ahead no matter what.

    People don't seem to know what presidency and leadership is about. No one person can "run a country," and the U.S. president doesn't run the world. It's gotten too big and too complicated. Hillary Clinton will have advisors and she'll have to consult with them as well as all the myriad factions in Washington if she wants to get anything done. Real leadership is about getting people with differing worldviews and differing strengths to band together and put their talents toward a common goal, it's not about deciding everything yourself and bullying the people who disagree into accepting it.

    February 29, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  16. oez

    based on campain style alone. Obama brings moral and hope and yes that's enough as it is. He is bringing people back in to politics and back in to control of the country. i would rather have a candidate that inspires the people to take part in their government and actually vote. When was the last time anyone saw 18 year olds discussing politics and actually wanting to get involved??? This is about giving power to the people and not the same old feeling of who cares anyway. Experienced or not, moral and pride of the american people go along way, thats what a leaders job is. Its not like the president is a dictator that makes all the decisions anyway. All experiences means, is that you have been disconnected for longer and owe more people favors.

    February 29, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  17. Jim in California

    As a lifelong democrat, a staunch supporter of Bill and Hillary during the Clinton presidency (and primaries), a former party executive, longtime official and delegate, I am sick and tired of the entire tenor of the Clinton campaign. Democrats have eaten their young and snatched defeat from the hands of victory for too long, and that will be the entire legacy of the Hillary Clinton campaign if this continues. I will be sitting out the general election if Hillary gets the nomination, and consider leaving the party. Wolfson, Ickes, Bill and Hillary should be taken to the woodshed for the garbage campaign they have run, which has been incompetent, self-serving and destructive to the future of they party. Despite what the media has said, there will be a lot of democrats – longstanding – that will not support Hillary after this campaign. Pretty sad footnote to the Clinton Legacy.

    February 29, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  18. Quinn

    Hey Hillary, If Obama is "missing in action", then what do you call your tax returns?

    I read an interesting quote yesterday from a woman that can't stand Hillary. She said "How can Hillary complain that the media is against her when she has been blown out in the last 11 states and yet she is still being treated like a contender." I thought it was HILLarious.

    Hillary supporters will never admit it, but the only reason why they HATE Obama so much is because he came from out of nowhere. Stop blaming him for running perhaps the best campaign in U.S. history while Hillary made countless errors. She underestimated him big time. Give him his due and stop hating.

    February 29, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  19. me2

    Hillary needs to stand on her own, not tie her husband's experience to ehr own. Just because she was in the White House as the First lady doesn't mean she KNOWS how or Knows the job. It's like saying, I worked ina doctor's office and am qualified.

    Let's not forget that she, too, thinks she is above law, has hidden evidence to avoid conviction, evidence found in the White House 2 weeks after the deadline for prosecution. SHAME ON YOU, Hillary. We haven't forgotten, nor can we afford to do so.

    Her antics these days are desperate! Trying to change Texas election laws now is desperate. Since she isn't getting it served to her in the manner she is accustomed to, she wants to change the rules. What will she do to the common man, to our interests if she were elected?She doesn't want this for America. She wants it for Herself!

    February 29, 2008 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  20. KAT

    As someone with current military family members, I support Clinton. My cousins are Marines, my brother is in the Army. I trust Clinton to make conscious, well-thought out decisions that will be in my cousins' and brother's best interests when it comes to war. I can't say the same for Obama.

    I'm a staunch Democrat, and I admit I'll vote for McCain if Obama is nominated. At least I know McCain will act in their best interests. I trust Clinton and McCain with my family members' lives, not Obama. He's too interested in popular opinion, but popular opinion holds no weight when it comes to war.

    February 29, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  21. denise

    Hilary Clinton has been disliked from 'day one' in 1992. Not quite sure why people sure why people are so surprised that she hasn't gotten the type of press as Obama.

    February 29, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  22. Pat M Canada

    I just can't understand why Americans would want to vote for a Candidate who is so new to the establishment, so inexperienced in politics, international affairs, government affairs, policies, political systems, et al And especially after experiencing two terms of the Bush Administration illustrating what devastation inexperience, lack of capability and leadership qualities can bring to bear on a Nation !

    February 29, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  23. rastarr for obama

    NO hiLL im sorry your point still is unclear to me like you said its a diFFERANCE to Have NO responsibilty and having some AND YOU HAD IT and MADE the WRONF DECISION!! sorry hiliary so validate that? UM and yes OBAma has been campaigning and missed an afganistan chair but HOW MUCH more can he do for or with afgan BEING THE PRESIDENT"" I still see barack as my president!!

    February 29, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  24. ME

    Nobama ... Nobama ! We need someone with experience in the white house. He has a long way to go! He is all talk ... nothing else.

    Go Hillary !!

    February 29, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  25. A.B. in Seattle

    The only thing I want to know is why does it take both Hillary and Obama so long to pick up the phone? How many rings are set for the White House Bat-line?

    February 29, 2008 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
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