Presidential Campaign

Clinton Says She Is Only Candidate Who Will End the War in Iraq

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton stands during the national anthem at a campaign event called "Solutions for a Strong Military" at Hopewell High School in Aliquippa, Pa.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton stands during the national anthem at a campaign event called "Solutions for a Strong Military" at Hopewell High School in Aliquippa, Pa. (By Charles Dharapak -- Associated Press)
By Anne E. Kornblut and Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, April 10, 2008

ALIQUIPPA, Pa., April 9 -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that she is the only presidential candidate who will end the Iraq war, as she sought to assert her foreign policy credentials a day after hearing congressional testimony from top U.S. leaders in Iraq.

Speaking at an event with retired flag officers here, Clinton (N.Y.) accused her rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), of being disingenuous about his promise to end the war.

"We need to be planning and preparing to start bringing our troops home, and I have committed to doing that within 60 days of my becoming president," she said. "Senator Obama, on the other hand, says he'll end the war, but his top foreign policy adviser said he won't necessarily follow the plan he's been talking about during this campaign -- that the plan is 'just words.' Well, you can count on me to end the war safely and responsibly."

At a stop outside Pittsburgh later in the day, Clinton added Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) to her line of attack, saying, "One candidate will continue the war, one candidate only says he'll end the war, and one candidate is ready, willing and able to end the war."

Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan dismissed Clinton's criticism as a "tired and discredited attack." Clinton was referring to comments by then-Obama adviser Samantha Power weeks ago that Obama's plans to pull combat troops out of Iraq in 16 months were a "best-case scenario." Power later resigned from the campaign.

Despite the attacks by Clinton, Obama and McCain largely ignored her and dueled with each other over Iraq and the economy.

Campaigning Wednesday in Malvern, Pa., Obama continued his focus on the economy as he tries to win over blue-collar voters in Pennsylvania and elsewhere with a message that reflects working-class concerns, from gasoline prices to declining wages. He decried the "Bush-Cheney-McCain" principle of "you're on your own," rather than "we're all in this together."

Obama also said Republican policies have led to income inequality, boom-and-bust cycles such as the current housing market crisis, job outsourcing and income stagnation. "And that is why there will be a very clear choice in this election," he said, referring to a potential matchup against McCain in November, rather than against Clinton in the remaining primaries. "If you believe that our economy's on the right path, then John McCain's the candidate for you."

At a campaign stop at Bridgewater Associates, a global investment firm in Westport, Conn., McCain was asked whether he would raise taxes, cut entitlement or defense spending, or increase the deficit. McCain rejected all four options, arguing that his proposal to cut taxes and eliminate wasteful earmarks would erase the deficit.

"My answer to you is, you grow the economy," he said. "I believe we can grow this economy and reduce this deficit . . . by the kinds of pro-growth, pro-stimulus packages that have shown throughout history they can grow the economy."

Appearing on Fox News, McCain also called on Obama to repudiate comments from liberal radio host Ed Schultz describing the senator from Arizona as a "warmonger."

"If Senator Obama is going to wage the kind of campaign that he says he is, I hope that he will, he personally, will repudiate that kind of language," McCain said.

The Obama campaign has played down the controversy as a bid by McCain for media attention, noting that Schultz is not connected to the campaign, as the radio host has repeatedly said. "John McCain is not a warmonger and should not be referred to as such," said Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

A day after testimony by Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker before the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, McCain took pains to distance himself from President Bush even as he reiterated his support for Petraeus's handling of the war in Iraq.

He vowed to confer more with congressional leaders on matters of war and to "be humble" in his dealings with foreign leaders. Asked whether he would reject Bush's "preemptive war" strategy, he did not rule it out but said he would take a sharply different tack when weighing military action overseas.

"I think you need to consult more closely and carefully, not with every member of Congress, but with the leadership of Congress," he told the crowd of several hundred employees at Bridgewater. "If they're not in on the takeoff, they're not going to be in on the landing."

In her remarks in Aliquippa, Clinton called on Bush to answer questions that she said were ignored Tuesday. "I asked General Petraeus for the conditions under which he would actually support a change of course in Iraq and to begin a drawdown of our troops, given that the surge has failed to achieve its stated goal of political reconciliation among the Iraqis," Clinton said. "Well, he didn't really answer me."

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