March 2nd, 2008
04:30 PM ET
9 years ago

Wesley Clark: 'Women can fight'

Gen. Clark campaigned with Sen. Clinton in Waco, Texas recently.

Gen. Clark campaigned with Sen. Clinton in Waco, Texas recently.

(CNN) – In a conference call with reporters Sunday, Gen. Wesley Clark, one of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s most high-profile supporters with a military background, took the opportunity to address whether a woman could be counted on to use force when necessary to protect the United States.

“I hope that we’re past that,” Clark said. Noting that “during the Kosovo campaign we had some wonderful women flying airplanes, dropping bombs,” the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO explained “women can fight and women will fight but they’ll fight smart.”

“Hillary Clinton is a fighter by nature,” he said. “I would have no concerns about her willingness to use force but I have great confidence that she’ll only use it as a last resort.”

Clark explained Clinton’s vote authorizing President Bush to take action in Iraq as “a vote for coercive diplomacy” rather than “a vote for war,” and said the Bush administration “misused” the authority granted to it by Congress.

Clark also told reporters that Clinton was more qualified than Sen. John McCain to be the next commander-in chief because McCain’s service as a naval fighter pilot did not prepare him “in terms of dealing with the national strategic issues that are involved” in being president. Clinton, in Clark’s estimation, has had the necessary experience to make high-level national security decisions because of her tenure in the U.S. Senate and her time as First Lady.

Clark and 15 other retired U.S. military flag officers, generals and admirals, used the call to explain why they are endorsing Clinton to be the nation’s next commander-in-chief.

Not to be outdone, the Obama campaign also held a conference call with reporters Sunday that highlighted Sen. Obama’s foreign policy experience. Dr. Susan Rice, a former Assistant Secretary of State during the administration of Clinton’s husband, said Sen. Clinton “continues to attack Barack Obama on foreign policy without offering any basis for her own experience.”

“It’s really not enough just to assert you have the experience to be commander-in-chief,” Rice said. “That assertion has to be backed up by a record of judgment and a vision of where you want to lead this country,” she added. Rice also detailed legislative and diplomatic accomplishments by Obama which his campaign says distinguish him from Clinton on foreign policy.

The two campaigns convened the calls after several days in which national security has been in the spotlight of the Democratic nomination race because of dueling ads in which Clinton and Obama each claimed to be the best person to protect the country in the event of an unexpected crisis.

–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart

soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Margareth

    Yes. So ?

    That means I have to vote for Hillzilla ? Don't think so.

    Women can have as bad of a judgement as men.

    And as a person, the many faced Hillary has no place as a president in the United States. There is a place for individuals with multiple personalities but they are not in elected offices.

    March 2, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  2. Frank



    March 2, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  3. Spirit of America

    Hillary is a fighter and a winner. Today she was enthusiastically endorsed by another fighter and winner, Kelly Pavlik from Youngstown Ohio, the middle-weight champion of the world. She not only has the right punches, but clearly the right platform, one strong enough to put any political man, be it Obama or McCain, on the ropes. Let's have a woman and fighter in the White House for a change.

    March 2, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  4. Keith Hunter

    I find this discussion launched by Clinton to be a type of diversion. I say this because on the last debate she chided one of the journalists for asking a "hypothetical" scenerio then she does exactly that by this 3:00 AM ad she has run.

    It seems to me that the point Obama makes about Clinton not even reading the intelligence reports prior to her voting to support invading Iraq to be bang on in interpreting Clinton's judgement. On a matter of voting to endorse a pre-emptive military invasion of another country the idea that any elected leader would vote to invade a country without even reading the intelligence report is absolutely shocking to me.

    Clinton's attempt at trying to lead people to think that a phone call at 3:00 AM on matters as diverse as economics, disasters, etc and that she would make a on the spot decision regarding such magnitudes without any consultation at all makes me wonder is she is again stating she would make decisions without knowing all the information or if she is trying to imply she could single handedly save the country all by herself sitting on her beside.

    This delusion of granduer is not befitting a President I would trust at any time of the day or night.

    March 2, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  5. Patrick

    I generally respect General Wesley Clark, but he's being very intellectually dishonest here. It wasn't an authorization to use "coercive diplomacy". Read the title of the bill please Gen. Clark before you make misleading comments:

    "Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002"

    March 2, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  6. Sean from TX

    What a fighter Hillary was! We need her more than ever, she had proven that she has the brain and the toughness to lead the country!!! Texas for Hillary!!!

    March 2, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  7. Willie

    CNN, PLEASE POST THIS. This is related to this article to show that Hillary has received endorsements from many Generals.

    Hillary has received 28 endoresements from Flag Generals. She also received a new endorsement from General Shelton, one of the former Joint Chiefls of Staff under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush. General Shelton is one of our nation's top military figures.

    In announcing his endorsement, General Shelton said, "I’ve been with Senator Clinton when she has been with our military men and women. I know from those experiences that she understands the demands and sacrifice of military life. I am confident she will always put the readiness and well being of our troops first. She is ready to be Commander-in-Chief."

    General Shelton joins General John Shalikashvili as the second former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to have endorsed Senator Clinton. General Shelton is the fourth flag officer to endorse Senator Clinton this week.

    March 2, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  8. Jamie

    I believe if this many military officers back her on her ability to be commander in chief then people should listen to them.

    VOTE HILLARY !!!!!

    March 2, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  9. vl

    Obviously, Hillary Clinton is the best to be our next President. And she's not trying to buy superdelegates like Obama is. Check out the Capital Eye, Superdelegates and you'll see what I mean. I've heard ENOUGH from Obama about "not voting for the war", especially since he was not even on the national scene at the time.

    March 2, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  10. California Voter

    Strong, smart, competent, experienced and a woman - a change to vote for!

    March 2, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  11. someone smiling in Texas

    Say no more Gen. Wesley Clark, this should quiet down Obama on the iraq,iraq,iraq issue, which is the only thing I keep hearing from him, he looks like those battery operated dolls that say the same phrase over and over until you finally get rid of it. This country is ready for a change and ready to be run by a woman and even though we will not have Hillary in our home town tomorrow, we will have Bill Clinton giving an hour speech and where's Obama or his supporters.........???

    We're a Latino Proud City for Hillary

    March 2, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  12. LJ

    Clark again shows his sub-par judgment by suggesting that Hillary "has had the necessary experience to make high-level national security decisions because of her tenure in the U.S. Senate AND HER TIME AS FIRST LADY?!?!? I suppose by this logic General Clark's wife is qualified to be Commander of NATO??? Wow...let me brush off my resume and start adding my husband's experience to it as well...

    I'm a Huckabee fan myself, but even I see the lunacy of stating that Hillary's conjugal relationship with the President qualifies her more on National Security than the real world experiences of a decorated Vietnam Veteran. The sheer arrogance of the entire Clinton team stuns me!

    March 2, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  13. Indiana Bob

    Come on people! Wake up and smell the kool-aid!! Look at Obama's platform - Yes we can have change and then hope for the best. How about some substance!! If you want to follow a cult leader to the after life, then go for it. See how that works out for you. But don't include me. Don't make him my president. I was hoping to enjoy this life.

    March 2, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  14. Eric

    So what we saw today is what we have seen this whole campaign. Hillary and her surrogates highlight her experience, Obama attacks her and goes negative, and the press talks about how Obama is right and somehow as qualified and more qualified than Hillary. What is Obama offering other than attacks and looking at the past rather than the future?

    March 2, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  15. BUSH is a fighter too but ......

    Bush and Hillary are BOTH fighters that agreed that it was ok to start a fight with Iraq and both voted the same on Iran.

    We are always wanting to make history. Well, here is some history. The Iraq war is now going to be longer than WWII.

    America has many fighters. That's not the point. The point is we need a President that has GOOD JUDGEMENT.

    March 2, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  16. Chad

    Obama has NO experience. What are people thinking?
    If Dems want to win, vote for who Limbaugh and Hannity are rooting against.

    H.Clinton 08

    March 2, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  17. jujub

    I've been a dedicated CNN watcher but today says it all:

    Today's Ticker:

    Women can fight (1)
    Clinton's Late Night SNL Live Appearance (2)
    Hillary Clinton to Make Surprise SNL Visit (3)
    Clinton Aims to Clean House (4)
    Clinton to Appear on The Daily Show (5)
    Clinton Supporter Rips Texas Caucas System (6)
    Clinton: Obama Missing in Action (7)
    Jack Nicholson Ad Supports Clinton (8)

    Obama Mocks Clinton...Mocks Obama (1)
    Arcade Fire to Perform (2)
    Scenes from the Trail (3 – Photo Only)

    Its confirmed!! CNN is the CLINTON NEWS NETWORK

    March 2, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  18. Kevin

    Clark said: “Hillary Clinton is a fighter by nature..I would have no concerns about her willingness to use force."

    Yes, sir, none of us doubt that she would. Her vote on Iraq proved that. I think the point, however, is that citizens don't want another trigger-happy administration. Clinton does nothing to prove she is different from the administration of the past 7 years.

    The more war-mongers surrounding Clinton, the better; meanwhile, statesmen and diplomats flock to the sensible candidate: Obama.

    March 2, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  19. Matilsky NY

    It's amazing how many high level officals are willing to be Clinton puppets. I wonder how many favors the Clintons cashed to get Clark to make these comments with a straight face.

    Obama 08'

    March 2, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  20. Kate

    Women can indeed fight. And lose.

    And Hillary has certainly lost this one.

    March 4th is a great time to drop out. Don't become the Democratic Huckabee!

    For the good of the party, end this now!

    March 2, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  21. Mille, NYC

    What exactly is a "fighter by nature"? What does that mean? Does that mean that the sum of all of her experience leads to a "fighter by nature"? Just sounds weird and her life has been pretty good.

    March 2, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  22. La Raza

    All that should be said is Obama/Powell 2008! "Yes we've done it!"

    March 2, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  23. Vig

    Hillary Clinton grew up with a father with a military background and taught her lessons he learned from the military. What's in Obama's background that allies him with the military? Absolutely nothing. Did he serve? No.

    March 2, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  24. Steve

    Gen. Wesley Clark has turned into a political hack for the Clinton's. Pardon me, John McCain has done nothing since being a fighter pilot in the late 1960's and returning in 1973? Shame on you General for ignoring 35 years of his career. It is okay to disagree but chopping 35 years off his career is political hackery

    March 2, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  25. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    I respect Gen. Clark, but it sounds like he didn't read the vote for war papers as Hillary stated she didn't. Somebody is lying so I guess it's the hundreds of other Senators lying that voted for the war. Barack Obama didn't misinterpret what he was voting for and his vote was No. I'm sure the documents signed with Hillary's yes vote for war weren't destroyed, so why doesn't get them as proof of her vote for "coercive diplomacy". Show us proof of your vote Hillary if you want support. Until then, Obama gets my vote.

    March 2, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
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