March 8th, 2008
04:20 PM ET
15 years ago

Clinton, Obama campaigns spar over Iraq

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The Clinton campaign is continuing to target Obama over remarks made by former adviser Power."] (CNN) - The Clinton and Obama campaigns continued to tangle Saturday over comments on Iraq policy made by a former adviser to the Illinois senator's campaign, who seemed to suggest in an interview that he would not be bound by specific policy proposals he had made during his presidential campaign.

"Once again, it looks like Senator (Barack) Obama is telling voters one thing while his campaign says those words should not to be mistaken for serious action," New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign said in a memo sent to reporters.

The Obama campaign immediately responded with a memo of their own that said the "real Commander-in-chief test" is about "whether the American people will be able to trust in the judgment and the honesty of their next President."

On Friday, the Clinton campaign seized on remarks made by Samantha Power, who told a BBC interviewer that Obama "will of course not rely upon some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or U.S. senator" to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.

On Saturday, the Clinton campaign continued to highlight those remarks, saying Obama's entire campaign was based on his attempts to contrast his early opposition to the Iraq war with Clinton's vote in favor of a resolution authorizing the use of force in that conflict - and fatally weakened by any suggestion that he might alter his current position.

"It turns out those attacks and speeches were just words. And if you can't trust Senator Obama's words, what's left?" said the Clinton campaign memo.

"…With a short record to run on, Senator Obama's entire campaign is based on the speeches he makes on the campaign trail. So when he and his advisers dismiss the plans he touts on the stump, it undermines his entire candidacy."

The Obama campaign, meanwhile, said in its memo that it would be "more than happy" to engage the Clinton team in a "serious debate on Iraq," but that their opponents "should stop playing politics with war, and they should stop telling the American people things that they know aren't true."

Power - the unpaid adviser to Obama's presidential effort whose remarks sparked the current debate - resigned from the campaign after another journalist reported that she had said Clinton was behaving like a "monster."

UPDATE: In a statement criticizing President Bush's veto of a bill that would have banned the CIA from waterboarding, Obama said that during the primary season Clintone had "flip-flopped from her past position of tolerating torture."

He added: "...When I am President, the American people and the world will be able to trust that I will outlaw torture, because unlike Senator Clinton I have never made an exception for torture and I never will."

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Lindsay

    Oh please! The Clinton campaign has been doing this now for weeks. They pull out one sentence, then repeat it over and over again, without giving any context for what was said in the rest of the conversation. Is Hillary advocating a "stay the course" Bush policy in which we are inflexible in our plans and never adapt to a constantly changing situation? I want a President who considers matters carefully and listens to all sides, before creating an even bigger mess by withdrawing too swiftly. Of course the plan for withdrawal that is crafted now will have to be modified depending on the situation when the next President takes office. Anything other than that would be plain stupid. Lately, everything coming out of the Clinton camp is irrational, silly, and just sounds irresponsible.

    March 8, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  2. David Friedman

    CHANGE? or just another liar?

    March 8, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  3. Nathan

    Samantha Power's remarks are simply common sense. Does anybody believe that an Iraq policy formulated in the past should not be changed no matter how much conditions on the ground change or how much new intelligence is gained? Does Clinton believe that? That is George Bush's old "stay the course" policy that has caused so much waste and destruction. One can be committed to a solid plan, and honestly set about accomplishing it, without being committed to following it all costs or no matter how much conditions change. Clinton is just playing her kind of old politics, the same kind of gotcha game with which she took out Samantha Power. What she says has nothing to do with good policy or reality and everything to do with attack politics.

    March 8, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |