Analysis: Clinton Tries to Rectify Past
Friday, May 4, 2007; 6:49 PM
NEW YORK -- Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's move to repeal President Bush's authority for the Iraq war amounts to a do-over _ an effort to rectify her most glaring vulnerability among presidential primary voters.
And this from a candidate who when pressed to explain her 2002 vote giving a green light to the invasion often says _ "There are no do-overs in life."
Clinton, D-N.Y., joined Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., on Thursday on legislation that would repeal congressional authorization for the war and require Bush to seek new authority from Congress to extend the conflict beyond Oct. 11, 2007 _ five years after the original permission was given.
For the Democratic front-runner, the bill represents her latest effort to step away from a vote for which she refuses to apologize but which has caused her no end of political headaches.
"For someone who voted for the authorization, she disappoints Democratic activist audiences by saying a different president would have used the authority better," Democratic strategist Erik Smith said. "This legislation shows she's exhibiting leadership and taking some action, which might answer a lot of activists' concerns."
Still, Smith said, "There will certainly be people who will say, 'Why didn't you do this years ago?'"
Anti-war activists and other Democrats routinely grill her about the vote on the campaign trail. It's also proven to be a valuable opening for her rivals, especially Sen. Barack Obama, who has made early opposition to the war a campaign centerpiece.
Obama's campaign issued a lukewarm response to what it called the "Byrd measure," noting the Illinois senator had introduced legislation to begin redeploying troops this month.
"As someone who opposed this war from the start, and opposed its authorization by those in Congress, Senator Obama would support this measure," spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement. "But he doesn't believe we should wait until October to begin bringing this war to a close."
Another top rival, John Edwards, criticized Clinton's bill as insufficient Friday but never referred to her by name.
A former North Carolina senator, Edwards voted for the 2002 war authorization but has since recanted his vote. At a campaign stop in New Orleans, he insisted Congress use its funding authority to end the war.
"Congress, right this minute, has the authority to stop this. All they have to do is use it instead of doing these other measures that are off in the future," he told The Associated Press.