Clinton promises to end war if elected
Clinton promises to end war if elected
By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer Fri Feb 2,
4:29 PM ET
WASHINGTON - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday
she would not have attacked Iraq if she were president
in 2002 and would end the war if elected, as she tried
to blunt rivals like John Edwards who are stoking
anti-war passions in the Democratic Party.
Clinton, raising her voice at one point to be heard
above anti-war hecklers, suggested that calls from
Edwards and others to cut off funding for
President Bush's troop increase are unlikely to win
approval in a narrowly divided Senate.
"Believe me, I understand the frustration and the
outrage," Clinton said in a speech to the
Democratic National Committee meeting that brought the
party's nine White House hopefuls together for the
first time. "You have to have 60 votes to cap troops,
to limit funding to do anything. If we in Congress
don't end this war before January 2009, as president,
The New York senator's comments were her strongest
against the war and signal an effort to confront one
of the biggest threats to her front-runner status. As
the conflict nears the four-year mark, she has been on
the opposite side of the most outspoken anti-war
activists who are a force in the Democratic primaries.
Sen. Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) of
Illinois reminded the party's rank-and-file twice
that he was against the Iraq invasion from the
"But whether you were for it or against it then, we
all have a responsibility now to put forth a plan that
offers the best chance of ending the bloodshed and
bringing the troops home," Obama told the audience.
Edwards voted with Clinton in 2002 to authorize Bush's
war against Iraq, a vote he defended during his 2004
presidential race but has since said was a mistake.
The former North Carolina senator has gone from being
a war apologist to one of the most outspoken critics
of the invasion in this campaign.
"Silence is a betrayal," Edwards said, one of 11 times
he used the word betrayal in his 18-minute speech. "It
is a betrayal not to stop this president's plan to
escalate the war when we have the responsibility, the
power and the ability to stop it. We cannot be
satisfied with passing nonbinding resolutions that we
know this president will ignore."
Edwards was referring to a measure being debated in
the Senate that would say lawmakers disagree with the
president's decision to increase troop levels in an
effort to stabilize Baghdad. Connecticut Sen. Chris
Dodd, another 2008 candidate, also criticized the
effort as meaningless.
"I don't believe spending a week debating a nonbinding
resolution is the change that America voted for" in
November when Democrats won a majority in Congress,
Dodd said. "With all due respect, a real bill and real
teeth and real accountability is what is needed in our
Clinton said while the resolution may not be perfect,
it represents the first time Congress has stood
against the president on the war.
"There are many people who wish we could do more,"
"You can!" came a call from a small gathering of
activists from the peace group Code Pink. Others in
their group standing along a side wall chimed in,
calling for a binding resolution that would end the
war immediately, while some nearby audience members
asked them to quiet down.
"But let me say," Clinton said, her voice rising above
the din, "that if we can get a large, bipartisan vote
to disapprove this president's plan for escalation,
that will be the first time that we will have said no
to President Bush and began to reverse his policies.
Now, I want to go further."
"Bring them home, then," said a man dressed in desert
camouflage that said "Iraq Veterans Against the War."
Clinton said she has proposed capping U.S. troop
levels and pulling funding for Iraqi forces, but won't
cut funding for U.S. troops while they are on the
"And let me add one other thing, and I want to be very
clear about this," she said. "If I had been president
in October of 2002, I would not have started this
Wesley Clark, who has not indicated whether he will
run, said he's the only potential candidate with the
battlefield experience to succeed in Iraq.
Dennis Kucinich called for an immediate end to the war
the same message he ran on in 2004. But it's now is
being echoed by several other candidates in a stronger
position to win the nomination.
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