Clinton: Iraq War Bush's Responsibility
Monday, January 29, 2007; 7:03 AM
DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday that President Bush has made a mess of Iraq and it is his responsibility to "extricate" the United States from the situation before he leaves office.
It would be "the height of irresponsibility" to pass the war along to the next commander in chief, she said.
"This was his decision to go to war with an ill-conceived plan and an incompetently executed strategy," the Democratic senator from New York said her in initial presidential campaign swing through Iowa.
"We expect him to extricate our country from this before he leaves office" in January 2009, the former first lady said.
The White House condemned Clinton's comments as a partisan attack that undermines U.S. soldiers.
About 130,000 American troops are in Iraq and Bush has announced he was sending 21,500 more as part of his new war strategy.
Clinton held a town hall-style forum attended by about 300 activists, giving a brief speech before taking questions for nearly an hour. Pressed to defend her vote to authorize force in Iraq before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, Clinton responded by stepping up her criticism of Bush.
"I am going to level with you, the president has said this is going to be left to his successor," Clinton said. "I think it is the height of irresponsibility and I really resent it."
Bush describes Iraq as the central front in the global fight against terrorism that began after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "The war on terror will be a problem for the next president. Presidents after me will be confronting ... an enemy that would like to strike the United States again," he recently told USA Today.
One questioner asked Clinton if her track record showed she could stand up to "evil men" around the world.
"The question is, we face a lot of dangers in the world and, in the gentleman's words, we face a lot of evil men and what in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men," Clinton said. She paused to gaze while the audience interrupted with about 30 seconds of laughter and applause.
Meeting later with reporters, she was pressed repeatedly to explain what she meant. She insisted it was a simple joke.