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. Wayne

    Spewing negativity ad nausium. Can she just talk about the good she will do opposed to just trying to tear Obama down every chance she gets. Geesh. Getting annoying.

    February 29, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  2. leny

    I can't understand that he said that the ads about that phone ringing is to instill fear burt on msnbc I, they showed an ad just the same with hers. I am confused!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 29, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  3. Eddie in NYC

    Senator Obama tries to pin on Senator Clinton the decision made by President's Bush to go to war in Iraq; yet says he could not hold hearings on the conduct of the Afgan war because he is running for president. Wow that's an "inspirational" excuse. If I were running for president and could carry out my duties in the Senate then i would remove myself for other to do the right right thing. Our valiant soldiers deserve better from our would-be "inspirational" president.

    I say, Senator Obama, you haven't held hearings on the conduct of the Afgan war because you care more about rhetoric and getting elected than you do about winning the war. You have no moral authority to point the finger in any direction but your own.

    February 29, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  4. DoubleT

    How do the Clinton's of all people qualify to comment on any war related topic? Wasn't brother Bill hiding in Canada somewhere? Unreal. Our Junior NY Senator has been MIA in the State she was hired and is paid to be working in, meanwhile she's wasting taxpayer money on this fine Odyssey of of hers.

    February 29, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  5. John

    Obama is too busy riding the hype wave to bother defending America.

    February 29, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  6. Paul Krolowitz

    Senator Clinton claims she is the experience candidate. The truth is Barak Obama has much more experience then her. They match on US Senate experience. However, Barak has actually served in the State Legislator of Illionios. That is experience that trumps her. She gives the illusion that somehow being first lady, that she has been tested. That is a fallacy. Being first lady is not experience, unless we want to qualify running an easter egg hunt on the white house lawn a pre-resquisite to be president. There is no benefit to have being the first lady with regard to being the president, unless we rationalize, that somehow she is going to let Bill Clinton make all the decisions when she is president. That is a fairy tale, based on the stereotype that married couples are ruled by the wife.

    February 29, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  7. Geri

    I for one am tired of listening to Obama say he wasn't for the war. He wasn't in the senate yet and who know what his vote would have been if he had been in?? I'm sure he'd say he would have voted against it but those are just words and words are his claim to fame. He can preach all he wants but I don't trust him.

    February 29, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  8. anita

    let the vetting cycle begin on Obama
    he has failed to do his job in the Senate in favor of fulfilling his presidential hopes. THAT IS HIS HOPE MESSAGE
    A one term US SEnator doesn't give me much hope when the trength of his message is about his own ambition.
    ME too, HILLARY, me 2

    February 29, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  9. Luke

    "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."

    How about going nearly 6 years and 20 debates until officially accepting the responsibility for your actions, Senator Clinton?

    February 29, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  10. Brad

    bush-league writing. There are two typos in this short entry! Pathetic.

    February 29, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  11. Aaron Harris

    There is nothing scary at all about Hillary's new spot. To call it scare tactics is ludicrous. What it does is ask a serious questions that voters will have to answer.

    February 29, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  12. Kerry

    That's right Hillary. You need to take responsibility for YOUR actions.

    February 29, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  13. Lucas, Nashville TN

    Translation: There is a big difference between being real and being a wuss and letting the GOP force you to support a war that you should have known better about.

    And she said all this from WACO??!!?!?!!

    Site of one of her husband's greatest blunders? Please.

    February 29, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  14. Not So Easily Fooled By A Fool

    Yeah, right; being 'bedside' when her husband's phone rang on military matters gives MZ. Clinton ability as a Commander and Chief!
    PLEAZZZE, give it a rest!

    February 29, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  15. hugo

    These truths shall set us free of this Obamination.

    February 29, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  16. Orest J. Hanas

    Sen Obama HAS NEVER rendered an dicision which carried respnsibility with it and he never will. He is simply incapable of making actionable decisions becuase of some innate fear of being blamed for possible adverse consequences.
    That is why he sticks to giving lofty speeches.

    An indecive president? What a disaster!

    February 29, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  17. Pamela Robinson

    God Hillary!

    State the obvious that you are ready to lead and your opponent is all talk and NO action!!!!!!!

    February 29, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  18. Charlotte

    He is missing in action, he lacks any action at all. Missed 40% of the votes in the Senate, way to go action boy. By the way, Obama did not vote for the war in Iraq. Seems to be his answer for everything.

    February 29, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  19. Vig

    If the phone rings at the White House at 3 am Obama will call Clinton to ask for advice

    February 29, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  20. Christian, Tampa FL

    The problem is that when Clinton was faced with an international crisis that she knew would have extraordinary consequences for the world, namely the War in Iraq, she took the politically convenient position and voted in favor of the war. It was a very, very bad decision for her to make and it indicates a lot of things about her approach to foreign policy.

    It's time to clean house. Let's begin a new era of American politics, not continue an old one.

    February 29, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  21. Jake, California

    Outrageous...she was by the bedside when the phone rang for Bill to pick it up so therefore she was a co-president! Are people out of their mind?

    Wait a minute, are we electing the president of a CALL CENTER or that of the United States of America? Obama's got the judgment and far sight to see potential dangers and he will put measures in place that will reduce the possibility of people calling the White House at 3am, this 3am crap came from Hillary didnt it? Just get this none sense from this site and stop annoying people with Hillary and her pathetic surrogates. This thing should really end by Tuesday!

    She never wants to win anything in a fair manner. She wants Obama to leave the campaign and go organize things about Europe so she gets an unfair advantage? Our economy and the peoples' lives need urgent attention now and that's what we are addressing here...we'll talk about NATO later..what do you want?

    And execuse me Madam, Obama doesn't need to be present for every vote in the Senate..You hasn't been, John McCain hasnt been. For those that Obama was present, he gave sound judgments. Therefore we expect the same judgment for those he missed.

    Hillary the point is not voting randomly on every issue(your style) but voting wisely when you do and voting as many times as you should which Obama has done. soundly... Is this difficult for you to understand?

    February 29, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  22. Suziku

    Boy am I ever sick and tired of Hillary and her negative politics. She represents all that's wrong and bad. My hope is that the majority of American people are also sick and tired of her and this constant nastiness! She complains bitterly about how negative the Republicans were against her husband and yet she tries at every opportunity to pull a "kark rove"!

    Obama doesn't let her get away with it, his response time along with his intelligent words and actions and cool head speak highly of him, unlike Hillary who is getting lower and lower every day!

    February 29, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  23. Tony in Mocksville, NC

    Good points and well put. We need a CNC who can get the job done, not just talk a good talk. That said, being a vet, I have been sorely dissappointed with how our current adim has been managing the so called "war against terror" and think that we need someone with more "stuff" than he has to get the job done. However, I don't think that McCain or Barak has that "stuff"!!!

    February 29, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  24. michelle

    Hillary is right. Obama is not ready and that is not negative. As an African American I am voting for Hillary because she has been helping out the African Americans even before we knew about Obama and I really hope ALL Africans remember that. You should not vote for Obama just because he is black. He is not ready especially with regards to the war. I am in the military and I know he can't PULL OUT as soon as he says. Hillary knows how and when we need to get out. I pray that the African Americans really think about what she has done for all of us and I am amazed how quickly that the black community has turned on her. Anybody can see they are only voting for him because he is black. He has not been clear on the issues and EVERYONE knows it.

    February 29, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  25. Felipe Kiocho

    The 46th President of the United States of America is Barack HUSSEIN Obama??? How comfortable are you as a US citizen???
    If HUSSEIN is ducking in his vote during his stint in the Illinois Senate. How could a ducking president be a dicisive leader?

    Theirs a Chinese proverb.."A noisy water runs shallow while a silent water runs dep"

    February 29, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
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