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. mama4obama

    There you go again Hillary. Twisting and turning. The fact is that instead of making quick knee-jerk decisions, Obama actually thinks about the consequences of every move he makes. So pulling our troops out slowly or quickly will be based on how things are going in the region.

    I want someone who can think rationally. You are not that person.

    OBAMA 08

    April 9, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  2. CARL

    Is it just me, or does anyone else see a problem with a presidential candidate (Obama) wanting to have lunch with a country that supplies weapons to kill our soldiers. They are also deciding to enrich uranium for nuclear bombs, which is in part causing oil prices to rise. Wanting to get rid of Isreal. And Obama had the Audacity to set near General Petraeus and say we should do lunch and conversate with them. Why hasnt anyone else said anything about it.

    btw i am a registered democrat

    April 9, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  3. Josh, Charlotte, NC

    Way to go Clinton! Your the only one I'll vote for. Not Nobama!

    HILLARY '08!

    April 9, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  4. Mike

    Obama's plan is to cut the military in half which means laying off 1.3 million military personnel while giving $800 billion to NATO and using them as our private mercenary force. The only problem is that is outsourcing jobs overseas which he claims he is against. Just another Obama plan that does not make sense unless you believe Rev. Wright's sermons of "evil America".

    April 9, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  5. Tiredofit

    This neo-commie's bleeding heart only bleeds for a vote! Nothing else matters except the defeat of capitalism and Democracy!

    April 9, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  6. rushdio

    "His plan is just words"- Clinton says of Obama's war plans. Right now, everyones' plans are just words. None of the canididates have been elected President. Therefore, no one has been able to put their words in action. Until then, her plan is just words, just like Obama's plan.

    April 9, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  7. Deb


    "And one candidate is ready, willing and able to end the war and to rebuild our military while honoring our soldiers and our veterans."

    Hillary 08

    April 9, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  8. A vote for Hillary is a vote for McCain

    PA polls show Obama catching up...
    Now is time to start the kitchen sink policy
    Obama yesterday showed that he understands foreign policy more than both other candidates. He should be our next commander in cheif.

    April 9, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  9. Vig

    Clinton is a stronger and smarter leader than Obama and McCain put together. Obama will not be a strong leader. He's good with words and that's about it. McCain lives in the past.

    April 9, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  10. A from VA

    Misconstrue the truth to get elected. More kitchen sink strategy especially since you are financially in the hole and can raise enough money to counter Obama's support from the people.

    April 9, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  11. P

    apparently she hasn't gotten the memo about the whole "100 years" thing: McCain did not mean it literally. He is talking about it managing the pull-out "responsibly": by taking the time we need...We've seen what happens when a Clinton decides to pull out the troops right away because of public opinion: anyone remember Somalia in '93? Bill pulled out our troops after the "Black Hawk down" incident, pulled them out before they could get the job done, and that country just slipped even further into a civil war it still has not gotten out of more than a decade later...The Clinton administration had several opportunities to support Saddam opponents (without the need to send in our troops – they would have done that for us) in taking that dictator down, but the Clinton adminstration just left them out to dry...we just pull out now and leave our allies hanging out there again, we'll just be showing that we can't be trusted and that we'll run away if things get too hairy...the number of US KIAs is tragic: but what will they have died for if we leave without getting the job they died for done...

    April 9, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  12. Frank, Missouri



    April 9, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  13. Hicks, Fort Myers

    Her back drop is insulting to the military!!

    "Solutions for a strong military"....

    Do we have a weak military? If so–define the weakness before prescribing solutions to make it stronger–it would be more believable particularly considering your weak resume on national defense

    60 days;!!!!

    What an outlandish lie!!
    No so called " military advisor's"" would ever advise a sitting President of such misguided action. Hillary is this your way of saying something most citizens (who know nothing about military strategy and execution) might believe?

    April 9, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  14. Tom in S.A.

    Hillary cannot end the war in 60 days, if you believe that than your stupid enough to vote for her in the first place.

    April 9, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  15. AJ, IL

    Hillary's is totally hilarious! (oops...I think I have a new Obama slogan, HILLARY THE HILARIOUS!) She is the candidate remaining in the presidential race who many Americans see as the least trustworthy and credible!

    April 9, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  16. BCNU purple state, usa

    She calls the other guys liars and then expects us to swallow the following line:

    "You can count on me to end the war safely and responsibly."

    Of course, the Hill-bots will claim that her statement above is addressing the specifics and she has greater detail than the other two. So easily fooled.

    Tell us Senator, will you have them out in 6 months, 16 months, 4 years, six years? Which is it? It's easy to say you'll START withdrawing in 60 days, since that is ALREADY happening.

    Put up or PLEASE just shut the H- up!

    My $0.02

    April 9, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  17. Ifeanyi Azubike Houston Texas

    If we have to accept what Obama's foregn policy adviser says, then we might as well accept what Penn said to the Columbians. Is there anything that is 'no-go" for this woman. What her antiques ahow is that as president we may have to read between the lines to decipher what she means.

    April 9, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  18. TiaWju

    We can count on you, Hillary? Right, you're a politician that can't even begin to tell the truth and neither can your husband! So exactly why am I supposed to "count" on what you say?

    April 9, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  19. An Agnostic Democrat

    Put your finger to the wind again Hillary to decide which position you'll be lying about AFTER you voted for the war (I misspoke, authorized the use of military force) in Iraq. You didn't even have the foresight to plan for your campaign past Super Tuesday so how can we trust your vision on matters with much more dire consequences? Just like Georgie, you'll be blaming someone else for your BLUNDER or making some other misstatement, misrepresentation or other alternate reality you've created.

    April 9, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  20. Candace

    She's still misspeaking. I really hope she just get out of the race.
    Obama 08

    April 9, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  21. An American in Canada

    60 DAY TO GO


    April 9, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  22. Tony, Miami

    She knows as everyone else it's impossible to end the war in 60 days but like she did it in Ohio she prefers to lie. Her belief is "lie, lie, lie something will always stay on people's mind" May be she is right this is after all how she ended up winning in Ohio.

    April 9, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  23. Vickie, Maryland

    I don't know how else to say it, "I can't stand this women". And Democrat or not, I will not vote for her. Obama or McCain for me! At least with McCain I'll know what I'm getting. Clinton can't be trusted

    April 9, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  24. TL

    Wow, next thing you know, Hillary's going to claim she will cure aids and cancer before both Obama and McCain does.

    April 9, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  25. Dave in DC

    Yes, Obama is secretly in favor of keeping us in war. That's why he has based the last 6 years of his political career opposing the war, so he can play a huge gotcha! Hillary has slightly less credibility than Nixon.

    April 9, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
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