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. Mad in Texas

    All you Obama supporters go have a drink with CNN. You'll need it when the returns come in Tuesday night. HILLARY 08

    February 29, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  2. Irene -- New York, New York

    Thank God Hillary is finally calling it like it is. To those who said in their comments "what could she possibly know just because she shared a bed with the President?" Read Carl Bernstein's "A Woman In Charge." He's an investigative reporter with no bias. In spite of how so many claim she is "self serving," she has done a tremendous amount of good, fighting for civil rights, women's rights, children's rights, minorities rights and the rights of the poor in this country and around the world since she was in college at Wellesley. Because she is a fighter, not a dreamer. She's been working hard while her detractors can't even work hard enough to just find out the facts.

    I admire and applaud how she doesn't let the opinion of misinformed others to distract her from her greater purpose of putting this country back on track.

    If Obama says once more how he has "judgment" simply because he didn't vote for the war when he wasn't even in the United States Senate, I'm gonna scream.

    Hillary 08

    February 29, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  3. Lucile

    White Americans will be the one to determine who will be their flag bearier in this election. Would it be the good speaker who hides a lot about his personality being a member of their mosque or the lady who serves a lot for her constituent as Americans and your own color and blood? The future of Ameicans lies on you my brothers and sisters.

    February 29, 2008 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  4. Jakey

    To be Commander in Chief requires Experience. Yes EXPERIENCE. Anybody saying otherwise just has to look at the current CIC. He was Mr likeability i.e. the man you could sit down and have a drink with. Al Gore with all his experience was considered as being too stiff.
    Now look at the mess we in now as a country.
    Now some "dreamers" want to take the same chance on Barrack Obama who gives some a "feel good factor" when they listen to his speeches. Well well..speeches don't put bread on the table, experience and knowledge do.
    Hang in there Hillary, because from day one you have been competing against not only Obama but the main stream media who seem to be going all out to favour his candidacy. It is SO obvious.
    Go Hillary! We are behind you 100%

    February 29, 2008 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  5. Melanie

    Bingo. Hillary, you say Barack had no responsibilities when he made the anti-war speech in 2002. Well, you had none prior to 2000 as First Lady. Your duties were supposed to be confined to afternoon socials with the First Lady of Birundi, et al. Right?

    February 29, 2008 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  6. Chris in Va.

    I wonder if a woman will ever run for president?

    February 29, 2008 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  7. KD


    This is exactly why I can't get behind Obama. Why hasn't Clinton hammered these things home from the beginning. I'm just hoping in catches on time.

    Yes, in hindsight 'we should have never went to Iraq'. Well, guess what, we are there; now what do we do. Obama keeps goin' on and on about this vote in 03', get over it already. It happened, now fix it.

    February 29, 2008 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  8. Gaby

    If anyone really listened to the last debate between Hillary and Obama, one could really see how lacking in experience she has especially in terms of war. She was given a hypothetical question and she dodged it. Her taxes have still not been shared with the public; her journal which is now once again in the hands of Bill???? Why was it taken out of the public to view. Who is really financing her campaign????? The one main thing lacking with her, is that she is not able to unite the people nor inspire them, instead she brings division between them. As so many polls have revealed the type of voter she attracts. The blind leading the blind. She should bow out gracefully while she still has the opportunity. She may be a fighter, but has become more of a bit of a nag to win the White House, in her own self interest but not for the American people at all. This is so because she creates division between communities. People will not give her the same respect as they would Obama, he does remain consistent each and every time. If people are really listening, then they will see that he answers every question, and explains his issues. Remember without hope and inspiration, just like with out food or water, or the will to change, it will not happen. If HRC contribution to this society was so great then we as a society would be feeling that now and not paying the price of some of her mistakes or lack of contribution or experience.

    February 29, 2008 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  9. The truth Obamateur is worthless

    a total opportunist who has as much business running for Prez as I would.

    February 29, 2008 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  10. gregg45

    if you people really think obama can unite this country,,,, i give you neverland,,, for 26 million dollars,,,, you can have all the fantasies and candy you can eat,,,, plus the added bonus of mikey jackson,, to dance and sing at your request,,, alas,, i try again,, moderation,,, oh no,,, i have a vision....... i saw barack ,, in my oat meal,,, he is waving a wand.. oh, life is so good now... i feel happy,,,, change ,, what change,,, i dont need no change ,, im happy now,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,sleep.........................................o dear god , that was a bewitched episode,,,,,,,wake up people,,,,,,,, vote with your mind,,,,,,,,hillary 2008.........

    March 1, 2008 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  11. mizpmh57 in Carrollton

    Would someone please tell me what international crisis Hillary has dealt with other than vote for George Bush's war in IRAQ?? Yes she was the First Lady and lived in the White House 8 years, so was she making executive decisions as First Lady? And this 35 years of experience,(remember she had a 14 year start: Hillary 60, Obama 46),What exactly has she done for America? If anybody's phone rang at 3:00 a.m. would'nt you think it was a crisis, and would'nt you handle the crisis? When my phone rings at 3:00 a.m. it had better be a crisis, and I have had some 3:00 a.m. calls which I have handled successfully, so does that mean I should run for President? HUMMMMMMM

    OBAMA '08

    March 1, 2008 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  12. Ozz

    Dirty campaign took us down the wrong road before. Don't forget what Bush and his party did to gain the White House, and look at what he did, or is doing to the country now. We are in a ditch, and we will need Senator to take us and the country out of it..

    Will every one please have some respect for this man.

    I learned a long time ago, that a racist person will not see, they cannot see, and they will not hear, because they have no eyes and no ears, eaven thoe they can really hear and really see.

    Ozz, Los Angeles, Ca...

    March 1, 2008 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  13. Texas4Obama

    I went to vote today in Texas and there was a very long line. Everyone got to talkin' to each other and it was amazing that EVERYONE said they were voting for Senator Obama! At least 14 of us that were standing there together are supporting Obama and NOT one Hillary vote in the bunch! This just goes to show how much support there really is down here in Texas for Obama.

    I can barely wait until Tuesday when the whole USA will realize that it is time for the Clintons to go home.

    March 1, 2008 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  14. Toby

    "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."–Jonathan Swift

    VOTE NADER 2008

    March 1, 2008 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  15. John Smith

    Before you post anything, please stop and read this one:

    How many people on this blog would have been able to compete against the wife of a popular former President of the U.S. and WIN?

    How many would have been able to run an effective campaign against a former First Lady of the U.S. and WON?

    How many of you would have been able to come from the bottom pool of candidates to be a front-runner and expect people to see you as a loser in a general election? Now you can write your comments!!!

    March 1, 2008 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  16. Gabby

    I see now all of the insults being thrown all the mud slinging all the fear mongering. If you have no other points in which to endorse yourself Clinton then perhaps it's time for you to step aside and let the man that the people obviously want take over. You put up a gallant fight, but your time is over. All you are succeeding in doing now is tearing apart a party. Like the white house this is going to take time to repair. Maybe when you release your tax forms you could send back the pieces that you took from the oval office and airforce 1. This race can not be won by such it will be won with valor. Obama is that man.

    Obama 08 🙂

    March 1, 2008 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  17. Norma

    Obama.....AKA.....Pied Piper......scarey

    March 1, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  18. offbeatrock

    Hillary has been missing in action since the primaries began

    March 1, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  19. spyturtle

    Clinton will bring this campaign and country down with her ambition and attitude to win at any cost. Where the documents and history of your stint 1st Lady? Where are your tax records? Hard to believe they are conveniently unavailable. Stop the smear campaign and heal this country. Get back to what's real.

    March 1, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  20. Kapil

    Case 1:

    Phone rings at 3.

    Goes to voicemail.

    "Listen Listen Listen. We dream and hope of a great America that is more Socialist than the Soviet Union. So let me dream while you leave a message.

    March 1, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  21. Divine Cipher

    When will Hillary learn-the more you throw at Obama, the more her own campaign will suffer. That goes for all those phony tv/radio programs as well who continue to try to tear the man down.-It's really like a blessing in disguise because it just gives Obama more fire power in the long run. Hillary needs to get with the program and focus on what we the people want which is "Real Change"-that's why Obama has been successful. Obama's top priority is changing the world for the better- everyone else seems to be concerned more about the fact that an African American will be taking over-"chillin' in the white house"-But still managing to overcom this downward, negative, cycle that America itself has inherited-The man is simply too smooth! Jealousy is a very dangerous thing people and can create a real bad karma...the saga continues.

    March 1, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  22. robert

    2 things to mention... if she had never voted for the war who would still be in control of iraq?? who would be the one killing , terrorizing his own people? sadaam right! then you have video of obama agreeing with bush on terror strategy in iraq. then now lets be realistic about the whole truth.. you can't even say anything about obama because all of a sudden it's racial. get real people if obama becomes president were doomed. hillary is the answer .

    March 1, 2008 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  23. Katherine

    It is awful to observe, day after day, the tawdry negativity and irrational inconsistent behaviors of Senator Clinton as she opposes Senator Obama.

    What kind of leader is she that she cannot make sense of who and what she is?

    March 1, 2008 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  24. AJ

    35 years of service= same old tired Washington type

    She opposes NAFTA NOW (depending on who she talks to), she opposes Iraq NOW. Give her a few chances and she finally gets it right. That sounds like someone who's ready to lead this country from day one.

    If you're not going to try something different, you might as well vote for McCain.

    Vote Obama

    March 1, 2008 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  25. Daniel

    I am Republican and am not planning on voting for neither Hillary nor Obama, but I would feel much safer with Hillary in the White House than Barack. 6 months ago I would never have said that, but I don't trust Obama to protect the country against terrorists. At least Hillary would have the common sense to do something about it if we were attacked again. Obama would probably go and try to give a speech to the terrorists, "hoping" that they would "change" their ways.

    March 1, 2008 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
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