August 12th, 2014
11:32 AM ET
8 years ago

David Axelrod smack-tweets Hillary Clinton

(CNN) - Zing!

David Axelrod, former adviser to President Barack Obama, hit back Tuesday against Hillary Clinton's recent criticism of Obama's foreign policy.

In an interview with “The Atlantic” published over the weekend, Clinton argued the decision not to arm Syrian rebels early on had led to Islamic militants taking over swaths of territory in the region.

The former secretary of state also took a swipe at an oft-repeated phrase Obama uses to sum up his foreign policy choices - “Don’t do stupid stuff.”

"Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle," Clinton said.

In his tweet, Axelrod appears to be knocking Clinton's 2002 vote as U.S. senator in favor of the Iraq War. (Of course, his tweet can also be aimed at Republican hawks who support a harsher response to the current situation in Iraq.)

The PAC for the progressive group MoveOn also tweaked Clinton.

“Secretary Clinton, and any other person thinking about seeking the Democratic nomination in 2016, should think long and hard before embracing the same policies advocated by right-wing war hawks that got America into Iraq in the first place and helped set the stage for Iraq’s troubles today,” Ilya Sheyman, the PAC’s executive director, said in a statement Tuesday.

Clinton later said she regretted supporting the authorization of the Iraq war.

"I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had," Clinton writes in her new book. "And I wasn't alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple."

The recent tension between Clinton and Obama's team invokes memories of their 2008 battle for the Democratic presidential nomination, when the two candidates butted heads over foreign policy.

A White House official said Monday that the White House is not getting amped up over Clinton's interview. They don't see this as her break-away moment, according to the source, though they anticipate she will move away from Obama over time.

The President and his former chief diplomat will have a chance to talk things out Wednesday night; the two are expected to attend the same event in Martha's Vineyard.

Clinton is also getting hit by the Republican National Committee, which accuses Clinton of playing politics on the issue.

"You can't distance yourself from this administration’s foreign policy when your job for four years was to lead its foreign policy," RNC spokesman Sean Spicer said.

CNN's Ashley Killough, David Chalian, Dan Merica, Jim Acosta, and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Filed under: David Axelrod • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (277 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    I couldn't have said it better myself Mr. Axelrod. This tragedy happening in Iraq is happening because some cowboy of a President wanted to get revenge for daddy and a bunch of saps in Congress authorized him to do so. I'm not saying no names, but you know who you are. You were before it before you were against it. Pres. Obama has done what he can as far as cleaning up Dubya's mess. But what's going on in Iraq will take a generation to fix.

    August 12, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  2. sonny chapman

    History will be kinder to Barrack Obama than Hillary or his Repub. critics. A Mini-FDR, Domestic & Foreign Policy.

    August 12, 2014 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  3. sonny chapman

    PS-Both of thr aforementioned critics have Political Agendas which affects their vision.

    August 12, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  4. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Yeah, invade a country on false pretenses without funding. Then have your Vice President's company make obscene profits on no bid contracts. It's funny how the right wingers weren't complaining about Bush; the worst President in U.S. history!

    August 12, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  5. Marty

    I thought Don't do stupid stuff meant do what you say and don't lie to people. I guess that's why I never made a politician.

    August 12, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  6. Sniffit

    "@Sniffit- Rudy, Silence and yourself can say the split is a myth but in the end you three sound like three Republicans trying to deny the split in their party."

    OK, so where's your evidence like with the Teatroll groups across the country literally trying to oust every 'establishment" GOPer they can during the mid-terms and fundraising and running their RWNJ candidates against them? It's simply not happening that way for the Dems. Relying on the broken, circular logic of "you deny it just like they do" is a cheap cop-out trick. We're not "denying it like they do" because there's this little difference in what the evidence shows. There is no internecine warfare going on within the Dem/liberal camp. To the extent people have different positions to varying degrees...sure, that exists...of course it does...but there's no crazy attempt by a sub-group in the Dem party to entirely take over and realign the party and drag it leftward in the manner the GOP has been largely commandeered and dragged (gleefully, enjoying it all the way) to the right by the Teatrolls.

    August 12, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    It is depressing to se how aggressively negative comments are on here to anything/anyone who suggests that the US, under it's current administration, could not have improved upon it's actions/positions It is also depressing to see the comments that lay all of the problems at this administration's feet. Simply put, it is absurd to place al of the blame on either Bush or Obama. We as a country have managed to wrong-foot the entire Mid-East scene through the actions and inaction of a number of administrations
    Are you ready?
    Brace yourself.....
    I completely agree with you yolanda.
    Well stated.
    I just don't know what could've been done differently by this administration,but that certainly doesn't mean that barring "boot on the ground" which I am completely against, other measures couldn't have been taken.
    I'm just not certain what they could've been, even though I would've appreciated nailing Putin to the wall....literally.

    August 12, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Just to clarify: "Don't do stupid stuff" means stuff like occupying Iraq in the first place, which was a tragically bad decision.
    Zip it and shut it b's!!!
    Well said David.
    Wish my President would've said it his darn self!!

    August 12, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    "Just to clarify: "Don't do stupid stuff" means stuff like occupying Iraq in the first place, which was a tragically bad decision.— "

    Like I said before, It means "Don't be a Dick Cheney."

    August 12, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    It is really a smack down at epic proportion. Good jab Mr. Axelrod. I wonder, what is Hillary's current opinion about her shared debacle?

    August 12, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  11. Gunderson

    Um, Yes!,
    Don't do stoopid stuff! Sorry Delay that. Just elect Hillary, that will be stoopid enough! Now on to No Jobs! Obama Care! Food Stamps! Tons of illegals, eating your food! Roads and Bridges failing! Last but not least, vote democratic!!

    August 12, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  12. rla

    Back on Chaney??? Hmmmm how about the last 5 years??? Right in the mind of a progressive they dont exist because they make cheney and bush look good!

    August 12, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  13. love344

    careful Hilary... going after President Obama WILL NOT work for you. review your notes from the 2008 elections~

    August 12, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  14. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    “Secretary Clinton, and any other person thinking about seeking the Democratic nomination in 2016, should think long and hard before embracing the same policies advocated by right-wing war hawks that got America into Iraq in the first place and helped set the stage for Iraq’s troubles today,”
    OUCH!!!! Do you hear that democrats running in 2016? I like you too Joe, but you voted for that God forsaken war as well. I'm starting to think Sen. Bernie Sanders may be the man for the job. He voted against the war and has progressive values.

    August 12, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  15. O'drama ya Mama

    Do Republicans realize how this is going to backfire? Blaming Hillary for taking Republican intelligence on Iraq seriously does not make them look any better.

    August 12, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  16. 9hydra

    This form of calculated, strategic foreign policy is why Obama is compared to Eisenhower. Yes, Eisenhower still made mistakes (such as allowing the CIA to start a coup in Iran to bolster the Shah), but the level if foreign adventurism was much lower than most other presidents. That's also the case with Obama. I believe after his presidency is complete, President Obama will have one of the better domestic and foreign policy records of recent American presidents, and he will in time be recognized as one of the better presidents of the last century.

    August 12, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  17. Ian's Rushtache

    rla says:
    August 12, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm
    Back on Chaney??? Hmmmm how about the last 5 years??? Right in the mind of a progressive they dont exist because they make cheney and bush look good!

    Only Hitler can make W and Cheney look good.

    August 12, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  18. Silence DoGood

    This MSM non-story of Dem in-fighting is just to attempt to balance the obvious angry, nasty GOP on GOP and GOP on TP conflicts. Maybe the GOP / TP is as nasty as they look and act. And that is enough of a story.

    August 12, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  19. sly

    What I do know is that President Obama has avoided sending American ground troops to foreign lands to steal their oil and murder their women and children.

    Best Foreign Policy President in my lifetime: Killed our #1 enemy, repairing relations with Iran, helping our in Africa, and best of all, staying the heck out of the Ukrainian and Syrian Civil Wars.

    Thank you Mr. President, and despite Hillary's gentle nudging, she will also be a fine Foreign Policy President. America is in good hands!

    August 12, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  20. MBSeattle

    I think Hillary will make a fine President, however she has dirt on her skirt due to her own political ambitions. The vote as a senator to go into Iraq was a look strong position prior to her 2004 flirting with a run for office She took the best job she ever had as the secretary of state. Do not bad mouth the boss it is not Presidential.

    August 12, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  21. mark Soloman

    Hussien using poision gas on Kurds in the North, special forces finding elements to make mustard gas.
    With all the embargos and UN sactions Iraq HAD the WMD, but moved them to Syria, or the still lie hidden in the desert.
    AS for as the war for oil, American's use oil at a ever expanding rate, we needed the oil, we take the oil, do you want to walk to work? America the cry babies

    August 12, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  22. Lily

    Doing stupid stuff is what republicans are good at. They dismantled the economy and now are complaining the recovery is very slow. They took the country to Iraq war while the entire world protested not to do it. They went to Iraq without any plan at all, how to win and how to come out. They didn't plan how those injured will be dealt with. The problem of VA shows it all. Problems in Iraq keeps cropping up like mushrooms. If not doing stupid stuff, what is it?

    August 12, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  23. Greg

    Now that Hiliary doesn't need Obama anymore she can throw him under the bus in her quest for the presidency. This is a warning to anybody that is stupid enough to get in political bed with her.

    August 12, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  24. hussein ovomit

    Free car rims in st louis courtesy of trevon hussein obama

    August 12, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  25. smith

    If we would have let Syria and Assad crush the rebels and ISIS in the first place we would not have a crisis in Iraq.

    August 12, 2014 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
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