April 9th, 2008
10:05 AM ET
15 years ago

Clinton challenges McCain and Obama on war issue

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/09/art.clintonaliquippa.ap.jpg caption="Clinton attacked both McCain and Obama on Iraq policy Wednesday."] ALIQUIPPA, Pennsylvania (CNN) - One day after telling General David Petraeus and Iraq Ambassador Ryan Crocker that it would be "irresponsible" to continue American military involvement in Iraq, Clinton took the issue onto the campaign trail and claimed her two rivals for the White House cannot be trusted to end the war.

Before a backdrop reading "Solutions for a Strong Military," Clinton accused John McCain of wanting to keep troops in Iraq "for up to 100 years," a charge McCain's campaign has disputed.

"Yesterday, he basically reiterated his commitment to the course we are on," she said. "Well, I don't agree with that."

Clinton's plan calls for the U.S. to begin withdrawal within 60 days of her becoming president, in consult with military advisers. In her speech Wednesday, she questioned Barack Obama's commitment to achieving the same goal.

"Sen. Obama on the other hand says he will end the war, but his top foreign policy adviser said he won't necessarily follow the plan he has been talking about during this campaign, that his plan is just words," she said. "You can count on me to end the war safely and responsibly."

(UPDATE: McCain, Obama camps respond after the jump)

Clinton was referring to Obama's former adviser Samantha Power, who told the BBC in early March that it would be difficult for the next president to firmly commit to a campaign pledge to withdraw troops, when no one can predict what the situation on the ground in Iraq will be in January 2009.

Power, who resigned last month after calling Clinton a "monster," said Obama's plan to withdraw combat troops within 16 months is a "best-case scenario."

"That's the choice," Clinton continued. "One candidate will continue the war and keep the troops in Iraq indefinitely. One candidate only says he will end the war. And one candidate is ready, willing and able to end the war and to rebuild our military while honoring our soldiers and our veterans."

UPDATE: The Republican National Committee, reacting on behalf of the McCain campaign, blasted Clinton's comments. “Senator Clinton’s calls for retreat would leave Iraq to the terrorists, and lead the U.S. into a wider and more difficult war in the future," said RNC spokesman Alex Conant. "It’s clear Clinton is listening to her party’s left-wing base and not General Patraeus and Ambassador Crocker.”

Later, the Obama camp weighed in. "Hillary Clinton's tired and discredited attack is just the same old politics that won't end this war that she voted to authorize, and won't change the fact that she has repeatedly misled the American people about her Iraq record," said spokesman Hari Sevugan.

"We're happy to have a debate with Hillary Clinton over who the American people trust to end this war, since Barack Obama is the only candidate who had the judgment to oppose the war from the very beginning, not just from the beginning of a campaign for President."

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Pennsylvania
soundoff (142 Responses)
  1. Gary in Toronto

    This is right up there with her equating the Goolsbee incident with Mark Penn.

    Obama and his surrogates have essentially said "here's what we intend to do – we'll finalize the plan with input from the people on the ground which isn't available to us now"

    Is Clinton saying her plan is not going to be open to any changes irrespective of what is happening on the ground or what the military is saying? How irresponsible.

    She really will say anything to win....

    April 9, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  2. Real change

    LOL Ya because if there is one thing in this whole big wide world that you can be sure of it’s that when a Clinton says something, you can believe it.

    April 9, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  3. Alfredo

    Obama – what is your comment as far as withdrawing the troops. He is playing safe and not telling directly waht is his true stand in withdrawing troops. America, don't be fooled by Obama. And watch your kids who joins Obama's bandwagon just for the sake of joining. I'm afraid they are doing this hastily like joining a fraternity group for tripping and for the sake of just joining.

    April 9, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  4. Allen in NC

    Just as the american people challenge her to come clean with all the lies.....

    April 9, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  5. Adam

    Go Get em' Hillary!!!

    April 9, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  6. debbie

    VOTERS: do not get pulled into the clinton campaign's divisive mug-slinging that has started today………………………

    Stay focused on bringing a unified educated new generation of Democrats in 2009………

    Please do not buy into the defiant nature that the clinton campaign has.

    concerned democrat,

    April 9, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. Sick of Hil

    She is so fake, every time I see her on the stump I begin to feel dizzy and almost want to throw up. Her lies, her word twisting and her misrepresentation on all issues is truly DISGUSTING. I can't believe I once supported this absolutly disgusting woman.

    April 9, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  8. libertad

    She can't even successfully manage her own campaign! How can we possibly count on her to successfully manage the Iraq fiasco?

    April 9, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  9. Homer

    If everyone would have had the forsight to vote against the war in the beginning we wouldn't have to end it now.

    April 9, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  10. Mrs. President!

    You can do this Hillary!

    You are the only solution for getting this country out of the doghouse.

    Hillary is the only choice and the only fighter that can win in the general election.

    Do your research, Obamaniacs, please!

    April 9, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  11. Its True

    Question is... Can I count on you to tell the truth?

    April 9, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  12. Jason - KY

    Is she planning on visiting Iraq? They just may have a few snipers there, someone might want to let her know. Or, was she planning on making a telephone call at 3 a.m. which would be 3 p.m. in the middle east?

    April 9, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  13. Dan , TX

    Senator Obama has a quite reasonable plan. The fact that he listens to many points of view is a positive, not a negative. He does not surround himself with yes men.

    April 9, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  14. Henry

    Hillary Clinton and McCain (aka McWar) voted for the war, Obama did not. We the voters have the record.

    April 9, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  15. SSgt USAF

    Hillary!!! Why is it that you look a Hot Chappaquippa Mess in all your pictures??? Bill looks like he's fresh off a three day Scotch binge and Chelsea always looks like she's about to cry!?! I'm just sayin...

    April 9, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  16. Olivia

    Obama DID NOT HAVE TO VOTE for or against the Iraq war.
    If he had to he would most certainly have voted PRESENT.
    Based on what I've seen so far....this is a very ambitious man who was initially surprised at the positive reception he recieved, and who has become so overwhelmed by the rock star treatment it has quite gone to his head. Now he also believe that money grows on trees, as shown by his excessive spending in this time of recession. He walks gingerly, as if in a minefield, shielded by others.
    Heard an interesting commentary recently on another network about Obama's time in the Illinois senate. Fellow senator said Obama would frequently change his vote based on how the rest of the voting went?? Would say he mistakenly voted the wrong way, and change.

    April 9, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |

    How can she take that position when it was her husband that decreased the military by 30% in his time in office.

    The Clintons cannot build a strong military... only downsize it.

    They are probably the reason why I was sent to Iraq without the proper equipment.

    Obama 2008

    April 9, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
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