This post has been updated.

Just before the terrorist attacks in Paris recast the ongoing struggle against the Islamic State on Friday night, President Obama said the terrorist group had been "contained."

"I don't think they're gaining strength," he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos in an interview that aired Friday morning.

Hillary Clinton knows that line could be a major problem for her White House hopes, and she wasted no time at Saturday's Democratic debate getting away from it. She used one of her opening lines to announce that the Islamic State "cannot be contained, it must be defeated."

The contrast was unmistakable. Obama's use of the word "contained" has been widely criticized, especially in light of what happened just hours later. And Clinton delivered the "defeated" line with such clarity and force, it might as well have been a knock on one of her Republican opponents.

The question that prompted Clinton's response provides clues as to why she not-so-subtly distanced herself from Obama. CBS moderator John Dickerson pointed to Obama's ABC comments and asked: "Won't the Obama legacy be that it underestimated the threat from the [Islamic State]?"

He was foreshadowing attacks Republicans might use against Clinton in a general election -- that an inexperienced Obama and his top diplomat, Clinton, misjudged one of modern day's greatest terrorist threats, which developed on their watch.

Paris shocked the world, and, according to his ABC News interview, it appeared to catch Obama off guard, too. The Washington Post's Greg Jaffe and Missy Ryan sum up America's post-Paris counter-terrorism reality this way:

The Paris attacks suggest that the Islamic State and its affiliates may have a broader reach and pose a deadlier threat to the West than intelligence officials and the Obama administration had previously believed to be the case.

Republicans have long claimed just that -- that an inexperienced Obama was out of his depth on foreign policy, and the rise of the Islamic State in the final few years of his presidency proves it. It's another small step from there to tie Clinton, the United States's chief diplomat for much of Obama's presidency, to those potential missteps.

Interestingly, as Clinton rebuked Obama, she also (perhaps inadvertently) gave former President George W. Bush something of a pass for the reality on the ground in the Middle East.

Clinton knows she'll have to address the rise of the Islamic State in the general election. Already, former Florida governor Jeb Bush used a foreign policy speech in August to try to shift blame for the Middle East from his brother's involvement in Iraq onto Obama and Clinton.

On Saturday, Clinton had the opportunity to push back against Jeb Bush. Her chief rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), handed her the perfect opening when he said: " I don't think any sensible person would disagree that the invasion of Iraq led to the massive level of instability we are seeing right now."

But Clinton instead took a 30,000-foot view to try to explain what's happening in the Middle East, arguing the burgeoning problem pre-dated George W. Bush in many ways.

"I think it's important we put this in historic context. The United States has, unfortunately, been victimized by terrorism going back decades," she said. 

Candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley discuss the Islamic State, the war in Iraq and the American military (Video: Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

The 1980s, the 1990s, the 2000s, today -- Americans died in terrorist attacks in every single one of those periods, and under every single president, she said, implying there's no one president -- or, by extension, war that she just happened to authorize -- responsible for the rise of the Islamic State.

It's a departure from Democrats' mantra that President Bush's jump-first, think-later strategy in Iraq is the main reason the Middle East is so entangled in violence and extremism today.

While Clinton might not seem game to point the finger at any one president for what happened in Paris, she's very aware that plenty of Republicans already have one pointed at Obama -- and her.

We could expect her to step even further away from Obama's Middle East strategy. She has already demonstrated this campaign she's not afraid to take a more hawkish stance than her former boss. She has suggested a no-fly zone in Syria, which both Obama and Sanders oppose.

(Though Clinton is still cautious of committing troops --"It cannot be an American fight," she went on to say Saturday twice -- and has made no mention of what she'd do with the 50 Special Ops forces Obama recently said he's sending to Syria in support roles.)

Clinton knows that what happened in Paris has changed her political calculus back home. Obama's recent comments on the Islamic State are a political rock for her right now, and the first step for her is to try to untie herself from it. Her choice of words here make that abundantly clear.