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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/17/art.clinton0417.ap.jpg caption="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. Noah

    Hillary plagiarized Obama, what a joke. Obama has been taking from Clinton's playbook from the beginning and thats fact.

    Obama and his supporters are showing their true colors today as they gripe about the debate last night. Very hypocritical to say your for new kind of politics when at this hour you are sending out attacks mailers in PA. As for the debate, no one complained when the media took shots at Clinton during the debates, Obama didn't stand up for her. Obama is only doing what he does best and thats distract us from the real issues, one being he lost the debate big time last including on the issues. So lets focus on the first part and not the second. Sounds a lot like how he handles his "bitter" remarks, by changing the context.

    Obama is the frontrunner. If he can't handle the questions( and trust me, those were mild) maybe he should drop out and give thenomination to the one person who is ready to take on Washington and provide us with more than hope, but real change, and thats Hillary Clinton.

    April 17, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  2. D F

    I do not agree with Clinton or Obama. Generals should be in charge in a war. They are the professionals.

    The President should be and is in charge overall issues.

    We are in this mess in Iraq because the Generals did not have complete control to prosecute the war . If they had their way we would have head the necessary number of troops and equipment to win cleanly but we did not.

    April 17, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  3. Tee

    If she run a war like her campaign, God help us.

    April 17, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  4. Ratgurl

    ... I believe that was OBAMA's quote.

    April 17, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  5. John Kay

    If Obama loses the general election to McCain, Hillary will lose even more when matched-up with McCain in the same election.

    Quote of the day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 17, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  6. mj

    She's at the point where she can say anything she wants,
    because she won't have to follow through on it, because
    she ain't going to get elected and she knows it.!

    Just like her calling for a boycott of the China Olympic ceremonies.
    She can just say any old thing now, to get air time

    April 17, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  7. Lonnie H.

    "The president tells the military commanders what the mission is."

    Sounds like what another Presidential hopeful said last night. It would be foolish for any President not to listen to, and take into consideration the advice and/or cautions of the commanders on the ground. Who would know better than the ones actually there?

    Lonnie H.- Toledo, OH.

    April 17, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  8. dan davenport

    Grasping at straws.....or lying, more of the same from this woman.

    April 17, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  9. MickyD10

    I want us to get out of that war as much as anyone. I have family there. Every "plan" is based on a "best case" scenario are they not? To move ahead with a "plan" (and I use that loosely because she does not have all the info to even make a comprehensive plan) with a "no matter what" attitude is just crazy. To be "responsible" in a case like this, one has to be flexible. Otherwise even more damage is likely to occur. What good is advice if you aren't open to taking it????

    April 17, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  10. Pamela

    "The president tells the military commanders what the mission is."
    Obama's exact words last night. She must have thought they were pretty good......just words, right Hillary.

    April 17, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  11. Len

    Isn't this Obama's idea. lol

    April 17, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  12. So, Hillary Choked... SHOCKER!!, Chicago IL

    Obama did not say the same thing. He said he will give the order. And then the Generals can advise him on what the best tactic will be. PAY ATTENTION! Am gettin sick and tired of Morons... Geez!

    The country is in a real mess right now; you really do not need neo-cons or pseudo neo-cons any where near the House that is White.

    ....I am not pointing fingers.... 🙂

    April 17, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |

    God help us all if this disgrace to all women (I'm one so I can say this) becomes the democratic nominee!!

    April 17, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  14. Mack

    Hillary wore the pants in last night's debate. Poor Obama, can't take a whipping. He's crying a river.

    April 17, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  15. Mike, Iowa

    Only a fool would do what they want without listening to experts.

    I'm all for ending the war, but don't be stupid. Ready To Lead, my foot.

    April 17, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  16. Raphael Texas

    Democratic Sen. Barack Obama dismissively talked about his debate with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and the line of questioning from ABC News' moderators, arguing that it focused on political trivia at the expense of the problems facing average voters.

    Obama is complaining because the questions were too hard for him..Pooorrr Baby... Its funny to see the true reaction of a Politician when the shoe is on the other foot.

    Go Hillary

    April 17, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  17. Bridgette- PA

    You know, the more people in PA that vote for OBAMA on 4/22/08, the better. We need to shut Hilary down once and for all. I don't want to bash her, she does a good job of saying and doing things and "open minded" people realize on their own the type of woman she is. I have had it with all of the Clintons. I'm ready for this country to start rebuilding the right way.


    April 17, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  18. canadian royal


    April 17, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  19. Seth

    "Mostly female audience"? Why was that piece of information necessary? Was it just "the girls" talking about what the boys do? Geez CNN, you're not even trying to be subtle. Was it to point out that she only appeals to women? Tell that to the men who voted for her (ahem, like me). It's amazing how this election is being decided by the pundits. Clinton may not be the media friendly PR package that Obama is, but she's a much better option than both him and McCain and I for one will be rooting for her until the end.

    April 17, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  20. Bob

    Well, I figure there is a reason that more retired servicemen, vets and four-star generals endorse Hillary. It's because they trust her more as a steward of our military.

    After all, one of the reasons that Republicans continually opposed Democratic efforts to "end" the war in Iraq was because the Democrats had no plan of their own.

    To date, only one Democrat has put forth a substantive plan, that not only talks about a responsible draw-down of troops, but how to actually win. That is Hillary Clinton, delivered in a speech on the anniversary of this war. Barack Obama was too pre-occupied with the old politics of character destruction to bother giving any details of his own..

    April 17, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  21. Bruce, Chicago

    Yeah, that makes sense. Why listen to Generals with decades of experience and years of personal experience on the ground in Iraq? Either she is completely mad or she is completely lying. You CAN NOT ignore the Generals advice on this one. No one wants to be there but we can not ignore the situation we have put everyone in. (Including you Mrs. Clinton, you voted to go too).

    April 17, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  22. Brian Metzger

    That response is identical, if not word for word, to the one that Obama has been giving for weeks....

    April 17, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  23. mick

    Obama crying about ABC. He had to talk about things he didn't want to talk about (poor Baby) He is only good when people are kissing his***
    McCain is going to rip him apart and the Democrates are going to lose again to the Republicans.
    And yes Hillary will do anything to win in which she should, to many people have invested in her plus she will fight for what she thinks is right and her beating a Rock Star is 100% right.
    As far as the article if Obama said it people would be praising it.
    Wake up people Obama will win over Clinton but not over McCain

    April 17, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  24. Sharon Minnesota

    The debate last night was the only sane exchange I have seen in this primary run yet. Hillary was completely in charge and Obama was at best bumbling and without clairity in his answers to anything.

    The only problem I had with Hillary was when she said yes, yes, yes to the question of Obama winning in November. I understand her reasoning for uttering those words being under the scrutiny of the DNC and the press but I wholehartedly disagree. My vote will go for McCain if the choice becomes Obama or McCain.

    I cannot in good conscience vote for a man who has so many negatives in his character. Sorry Hillary

    April 17, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  25. Kirk

    Hillary Kicked Butt last night !!!! . Obama didn't make any sense at all last night . his answers where shaky , and off base .Obama said he'd disowned Rev. Wright , Then said he didn't . He couldn't keep on track . Hillary did Awesome !!! . Go Hillary !!! All The Way To The White House.!!! We Love You !!!

    Hillary 08"

    April 17, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
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