April 17th, 2008
03:18 PM ET
12 years ago

Clinton: President, not generals, will be in charge in Iraq

Clinton is pledging to begin withdrawal in the first 60 days of her administration.

Clinton is pledging to begin withdrawal in the first 60 days of her administration.

HAVERFORD, Pennsylvania (CNN) - Hillary Clinton declared Thursday she will begin withdrawing troops from Iraq within 60 days of becoming president, regardless of what her military advisers say about the situation on the ground at the time.

"You can see which way the questions are going," she firmly told a mostly female audience gathered at Haverford College, a small liberal arts school outside of Philadelphia. "What if the military commanders tell you its dangerous to withdraw? That question is backwards. The president tells the military commanders what the mission is."

Clinton has faced a slew of hypothetical questions from reporters about withdrawing from Iraq after she said last week that her rival Barack Obama cannot be trusted to end the war.

In making that case to voters and the press, the Clinton campaign has cited an interview with a former Obama foreign policy adviser, Samantha Power, who told the BBC in March that the Illinois senator's pledge to withdraw all combat troops in 16 months was "a best case scenario."

At the Democratic debate in Philadelphia last night, Clinton was asked if she would bring the troops home "no matter what," even if that meant destabilizing the country.

Clinton said yes, promising to do so responsibly and with a strong diplomatic effort in the region.

"Our professional military are the best in the world," she said. "They give their best advice. And then they execute the policies of the president."

- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Pennsylvania
soundoff (380 Responses)
  1. Fed Up Democrat

    It's really strange how clueless most Hillary supporters are in these posts. I don't really believe that there are people out there that gullible.Can anyone confirm that some of these specious arguments for continuing to support her are actually made by paid bloggers?

    April 17, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  2. moma for Obama

    Hillary and Mccain = one and the same

    April 17, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  3. Jonathan Swift

    How can she responsibly say what she will do in 8 months in a situation that has been unstable because it was not handled correctly? What the commander-in-chief should do is look at all the available information and work with her civilian and military team to fulfill the mission she sets. My own personal view is we should never have gone into Iraq and tomorrow would not be too soon to withdraw- if it could be done in a way that makes sense. However even though I agree with her goal, there are several problems here that speak strongly against Hillary Clinton being an effective commander-in-chief to be elected and achieve that goal. First, if the current POTUS had made a reasoned decision based on all the information, and not simply did what he wanted to do irregardless of reality, we would not have lost over 4000 US troops and many more Iraqi civilians. He was irresponsible. Not incidentally Senator Clinton was irresponsible as well in not looking at all the information available to her. None of the other Senators who did not make the effort to read the defense intelligence estimate (DIE) are running for office- McCain read it and Obama was not in the US Senate. The issue is less that she should have read the DIE, than doing what she wants in the face of the evidence would be much like what Bush has done. That is not what I want to see in a president. More importantly, McCain would wipe the floor with her, and not because he comes into this as a military hero. He did his homework and was one of the few Senators who was correct about Iraq in the sense that he argued we shouldn't go in without a plan to win and then get out in an orderly fashion. I would never vote for John McCain because I disagree his view of foreign policy that has America invading other countries without provocation or good reason- not to mention his other views that make my liberal hair stand on end. My point is he would have the high ground here. He would argue that whether or not you think we should have gone into Iraq he was correct in how we should have invaded. Now that we are there we don't want to make as big a mess getting out as we did getting in. Hillary Clinton's attitude would not withstand his argument that she has not shown the judgment to lead us out. Even to voters, like myself who want us out of Iraq, that might be a compelling argument- Hillary would not be able to get us out without disaster, but McCain could. A lot of voters would buy that since they could easily be convinced McCain would at least get us out. This is a losing viewpoint by Hillary, who is just saying it to make a distinction with Obama. Samantha Power spoke truth about Obama's commitment to exit Iraq with attention paid to reality. I think Hillary has poor judgment and makes decisions based upon what she perceives she needs to do or say to get what she wants. The point is I don't disagree with her views I just do not appreciate her approach or think it practical. I favor Obama strongly. That said, if by some turn of fate she is the Dem nominee I will vote for her. I will clearly have to hold my nose, close my eyes, and probably bring a picture of the Supreme Court and a recording of "Bomb, bomb, bomb,- Bomb Iran" to convince me it is necessary- but I would do it (is there a shiver emoticon?)

    April 17, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  4. Roy (San Antonio)

    Funny that this was Obama's response to the question in the debate. "The President sets the mission..."

    April 17, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  5. MD

    You say anything, do anything, and lie your head off just to get nominated.

    You don't have a clue about what you are saying about troop withdrawl from Iraq. You are too naiive.

    Now if later you start withdrawing after 60 days, but bring back 100 soldiers a month, then of course, you have lived up to your campaign pledge, haven't you?

    April 17, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |


    April 17, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  7. Evan

    Obama is not being FORCED on anyone

    Fact 1: More people have voted for him
    Fact 2: He has more pledged delegates
    Fact 3: He now has more elected superdelegates (governors, House/Senate members)
    Fact 4: He has already won a majority of the states

    The American people have chosen Obama. Hillary people, get over it.

    April 17, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  8. W Almanza

    Hillary copying Obama...MMMmmm...Really?
    Well from the previous debates his answers almost always had "I agree with Hillary", "I totally agree with Hillary"...etc.

    Have you noticed that when Barack answered a question first, he always hesitates and looks lost? But seem more fluent & focused after Hillary answers the question first?

    Really now…who do you want the Apprentice or the Teacher?

    April 17, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  9. Susie

    If you didn't watch the debate, perhaps you should before you make stupid comments. Hillary answered this question first. Basically, Obama repeated her statement almost word for word. Typical–he is an arrogant, self-righteous, condscending jerk.

    April 17, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  10. John

    Doesn't she mean the President and not the Vice President will be in charge of war policy?

    Hillary or Obama '08.. anything's better than another Republican

    April 17, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  11. linda

    More media misinformation about how unlikely it is that Hillary can catch up in popular vote – she is currenly only 94,000 votes behind Obama and will likely take the lead after Pennsylvania, Yes, Florida and Michigan count – popular votes were certified in those two states and the DNC cannot scrub those although they may not seat the delegates selected as a result of those votes. This still doesn't change the fact that there is a popular vote total that the media is hiding from the public.
    It amazes me how one sided in coverage CNN and several other news agencies are. Slam Clinton, poor little B Obama….How about asking Obama….how much did Rezko actually finance for you and how much was related to your being elected? Your spiritual advisor makes Bin Lauden look as though they believe the same things, and what about your friendly neighborhood terrorist, Bill Ayers? Your campaign admittedly said you were friendly and on 9-11-01 this fool said he was not sorry for the bombings he started in the US. And he is a professor.. Please, only in a campaign….I believe Obama should get out before he gives this election to McCain

    April 17, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  12. dude

    She's a republican, her answer was appropriate.

    April 17, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  13. jarret

    iam from alberta canada,,,and incase you havent noticed its are troops fighting your terrorists in afghanistan,,the iraq problem all boils down to oil,,how did your oil get there,,we will probably never know,i suspect it was buried there by the dinosaurs,but you are right about leaving iraq,cuz the problem was afghanistan and also her comment on nafta just recently actually got a chuckle out of canadian politicians,and to say that canada has been playing the americans is just crazy,,The U.S.A..controls the alberta oilfield,,as a matter of fact your country controls to much in mine,,so hillary,if you dont want nafta ,well then why dont you go elswhere for energy,i am hoping you do. So we dont have to pay outrageous prices for stuff here,lolololol,,i used to have a ton of respect for amercans and vacation there lots till i listened to hillary open her mouth,,,GO OBAMA GO!!!!!

    April 17, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  14. Ted van Tol

    Hiilary, step out and lets go to the real issues!

    I want th here more about Obama's plans for America
    and his foreign policy.
    He gives me hope for the future. He can bring change in
    the whole world. Because he will be respected in the whole
    I am not an American for I a am a Dutchman.
    But I will be verry proud when Obama will be the new Pres.
    of the USA. He will be mine President too!

    God bless Barack Obama.

    Ted. Netherlands

    April 17, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  15. Charles

    Frankly, I shake my head anytime we have a president or potential president making stupid comments like that who haven't had any military experience and don't know their right hand from their left in matters of war.

    Yes, the president is commander in chief, which puts them over the army...and THAT IS THE BIGGEST MISTAKE OUR CONSTITUTION WRITERS EVER MADE!!!! And now she is not only proposing to tell the troops what the mission is, but how to do their jobs as well.

    Is it a coincidence that our best presidents, for the most part, have been generals or have had some kind of military experience (Washington, Jackson, T. Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy).

    Too bad Wesley Clark isn't running again.

    April 17, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  16. Utah Teacher

    Pretty in pink...

    I think that Obama or Clinton would do a great job as president–better than Bush has or McCain will. It's not rocket science, after all. Some of you are getting WAY too hostile. We need to back WHICHEVER democrat is on the ballot in November. PLEASE!!

    April 17, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  17. Susan MO

    Right on Hillary. You are doing a good job.

    After Obama insulted the people of Pennsylvania........
    America DOES NOT need a president who insults the people.
    He was given another chance to explain it at the April 16 debates, but 'skipped around it'.

    USA needs Hillary Clinton for president!

    Hillary 08

    Hillary For President!!

    April 17, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  18. Vivian

    she is an idiot and she thinks she has to show the American people how strong she is so we can elect her for pres. It isn't how strong you appear Hillary, it's how weak you run your campaign that sticks out to voters. You are fake, obnoxious and a true idiot for thinking that you are all that. Stop your negative campaigning and maybe you get some respect back, before it's completely over. This may be your last chance! I guarantee you won't win PA as big as you had anticipated. CNN Will you post this please! you won't!

    April 17, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  19. Aj from Hamilton, Canada

    Come Hillary You alrady lost...just droup out...you'r making it worst for the democrat to win in nov...regardless obama is the winner.
    go obama

    April 17, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  20. grandma from PA

    So Gibson pressed: Just to quote from the Constitution again, "In every case" - Article II, Section 1 - "after the choice of the president, the person having the greatest number of votes of the electors shall be the vice president."

    Wow we know what team he can say that out his mouth but don't ask no question about what the people in PA want.

    April 17, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  21. Tanya K


    CAN'T STAND ANOTHER BUSH TERM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 17, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  22. cc4obama

    These was Hillary's response....What if the military commanders tell you its dangerous to withdraw? That question is backwards. The president tells the military commanders what the mission is. Anyone see the "debate" last night? Those were Barack Obama's exact words! She likes to say that his speeches are just words, but she has no problem using those words when she thinks it will get her votes!

    April 17, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  23. Stephen, Dallas, TX

    I suppose she will draw upon her vast experience in military matters to overrule the advice of that worthless bunch of inexperienced, ignorant, and incompetent so-called militry professionals?

    Good Lord... and this person wants to be Commander in Chief? Heaven save us!

    April 17, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  24. Bitter Granny

    Did you not know that the more wars that a officer is envolved in, the more likely he will get more ribbons and stars on his shoulders. Also, did you not know that the President is Commander in Chief, making the decision, hopefully with the accurate intellengence and approval from Congress. And, did you not know that WAR IS HELL.
    I was an Air Force man' s wife for 23 years during the Viet Nam war. I know how it affected my husband and his friends. I also knew young men who came back to the USA in coffins.
    This war has not made USA safer, just added more revenue to the bank account of Bush, Cheney, etc. with all their stocks in companies that received no-bid contracts. BUSH'S & CHENY'S WAR

    April 17, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  25. Alex

    After 5 years of war, she got somthing from it. " an eneny,of my enemy is my friend. that is the Clinto"s moto. if that get her to the white House so be it.

    April 17, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
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