In Iowa, Schweitzer takes aim at Clinton's Iraq vote
December 19th, 2013
04:59 AM ET
9 years ago

In Iowa, Schweitzer takes aim at Clinton's Iraq vote

Altoona, Iowa (CNN) – Brian Schweitzer, a former Montana governor and self-styled prairie populist who wants to be part of the Democratic presidential conversation for 2016, drew a bright line between himself and presumed frontrunner Hillary Clinton on Wednesday by raising an topic that has largely faded from the political spotlight amid rising economic anxiety: the Iraq War.

In a speech to Iowa Democrats in the Des Moines suburb of Altoona, and in remarks to reporters, Schweitzer repeatedly chided Senate Democrats who voted in 2002 to green light military action in Iraq.

Clinton, then a senator from New York, voted to authorize the use of military force in Iraq, a decision that badly damaged her credibility
with the Democratic base and allowed Barack Obama to win over anti-war liberals in their 2008 nomination fight.

“Anybody who runs in this cycle, whether they are Democrats or Republicans, if they were the United States Senate and they voted with
George Bush to go to Iraq when I would say about 98 percent of America knows that it was a folly, that it was a waste of treasure and blood,
and if they voted to go to Iraq there will be questions for them on the left and from the right,” he told CNN.

Later, in his remarks to a holiday party organized by the liberal group Progress Iowa, Schweitzer asked the roughly 70 audience members
to keep the Iraq war vote in mind as they begin to think about potential candidates passing through the state.

“When George Bush got a bunch of Dems to vote for that war, I was just shaking my head in Montana,” he said, noting that he opposed the war
(though he didn’t have to vote on it). “I’m asking you to pick the leaders who aren’t going to make those mistakes.”

Schweitzer was reluctant to mention the former Secretary of State by name, but the target of his comments, delivered in the
first-in-the-nation caucus state that derailed Clinton’s candidacy almost six years ago, was unmistakable.

In recent interviews, with The Weekly Standard and RealClearPolitics, he has urged Democrats not to give Clinton a free pass to the
nomination in 2016. And asked after the speech who he had in mind when raising the Iraq issue, Schweitzer said “presidential candidates.”

Schweitzer, though, insisted he wasn’t attacking the presumed frontrunner.

“The point is that this is an election not a coronation,” Schweitzer said. “It’s been a long time since we have had coronations in his
country. Democrats are always excited about tomorrow and we always want to know what the future is. We don’t want to talk about the past.
We want to talk about the future. We want to know that the people that we elect will move America forward, not move us in reverse.”

To observers of his sometimes-haphazard speech, which also touched on education and prison reform, along with transparently folksy
Midwestern nods to cattle and 4H, his Iraq observations seemed somewhat dated.

“Are you tweeting from 2004?” one Twitter user wrote to a reporter covering the speech.

“The foreign policy stuff was good,” said Matt Sinovic, the director of Progress Iowa. “It was good, just unexpected.”

Filed under: 2016 • Brian Schweitzer • Hillary Clinton • Iowa • Iraq
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. RomneyWho

    The early birds are all ready up looking for worms, or should it be, the vultures are out looking for caucuses? 🙁

    December 19, 2013 05:18 am at 5:18 am |
  2. Marie MD

    The Iraq war was a made up story of WMDs by the war criminal #43 the trigger happy vp and his minions.
    In any other country they would be living in seclusion or in jail.

    December 19, 2013 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  3. Gurgyl

    Iraq is Bush fault. Just know this, any way USA doesn't give darn hoot at Iraq, nor Your Benghazi. Yes, on Hillary16.

    December 19, 2013 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  4. Tampa Tim

    The Kochs will immediately spend $10 million to discredit Schweitzer. Adelson will add an additional $5 million. After all, when somebody criticizes a war, it hurts Jeb's chances.

    December 19, 2013 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  5. current state of the union

    Who is this tool think he is, he would have voted for it too, bush lied to them all . I would expect this from a Republican, and true self promotion should never rely on this person did that, why not tell us all the good you have done, crickets. I cant remember the last time a gop candidate could run on his / her merits. It's always bash the Democrats, always, most of us are glad when our children outgrow that stage.

    December 19, 2013 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  6. current state of the union

    And right now I'm just shaking my head

    December 19, 2013 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  7. smith

    This guy is radical liberal nobody. Clinton showed courage and common sense with her vote. IMO, one of the bright spots for her career. It`s a shame the liberal base betrayed her and other dems who stood strong for the USA.

    December 19, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  8. current state of the union

    Right, because governors have proven to be foreign policy experts. Creepy guy all around.

    December 19, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  9. ghostwriter

    Wow Barry......Nothing wrong with shooting for the stars....but let's not get all conservative up in here.

    December 19, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  10. Rudy NYC

    It's ncredible that someone would bring the Iraq War back into the conversation in order to score political points. Democrats voted the way they did because they put their trust into the Bush administration. The administration told the Congress the same thing about the intellilgence that they had told the American People. The Bush administration claimed it was a top priority secret that could not be widely disclosed....and they didn't. Still haven't done it.

    The administration had even come up with some intellligence about a mobile chemical weapons lab. It was supposedly inside of tractor trailor, capable of moving around at highway speeds. Remember that one? Never found it, nor any evidence that it had actually existed. Most folks went along with it because we were a nation under attack from hidden forces. Not me, though.

    So, why demogogue Clinton for voting to go to war? They were given briefings that the Bush administration now acknowledges to be flawed. Flawed? Are you kidding me?

    December 19, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |