POLITICS

Clinton, McCain Spar Over Iraq Future

*** UPDATES BELOW ***

Sen. Clinton delivered a speech today on ending the war in Iraq. While she offered a few jabs at her Democratic opponent (as well as Sinbad the comedian), she saved her harshest words for President Bush and Republican nominee John McCain.

Clinton recalled McCain's statements about staying in Iraq for 100 years, saying, "withdrawal is not defeat. Defeat is keeping troops in Iraq for 100 years."

Read an excerpt:

Despite the evidence, President Bush is determined to continue his failed policy in Iraq until he leaves office. And Senator McCain will gladly accept the torch and stay the course, keeping troops in Iraq for up to 100 years if necessary.

They both want to keep us tied to another country's civil war, a war we cannot win. That in a nutshell is the Bush/McCain Iraq policy. Don't learn from your mistakes, repeat them. Well, here is the inescapable reality. We can have hundreds of thousands of troops on the ground for 100 years, but that will not change the fact that there is no military solution to the situation in Iraq....

...Senator McCain and President Bush claim withdrawal is defeat. Well, let's be clear, withdrawal is not defeat. Defeat is keeping troops in Iraq for 100 years. Defeat is straining our alliances and losing our standing in the world. Defeat is draining our resources and diverting attention from our key interests.

Meanwhile, the McCain camp responds:

At a time when Senator Clinton knows that American and allied forces are making real progress in Iraq, it is unfortunate that she would look to score political points by mischaracterizing Senator McCain's statement with intellectually dishonest attacks. The differences between Senator McCain's position, that we must win this war, and Senator Clinton's position, withdrawal and de facto surrender on day one, are important enough to have an honest debate over.

It would be the height of irresponsibility to stick with campaign promises to the left-wing of the Democratic Party and proceed with withdrawal regardless of what the situation is on the ground in Iraq in January 2009.

UPDATE: The Obama camp has jumped into the fray, providing a timeline of Sen. Clinton's inaction on the issue of private contractors in the military:

"Proving once again that she will say anything to win an election, Hillary Clinton is attacking Barack Obama on an issue where he has led and she did nothing until her campaign fell behind. Senator Clinton did nothing when the use of contractors was expanded in the Clinton Administration, she did nothing when Senator Obama sent a bill on contractor accountability to her committee, and after more than four years of war in Iraq she claimed to not even know contractors were unaccountable even though she sits on the Senate committee that oversees them. For all her talk of Day One, it took five years on the Armed Services Committee before Hillary Clinton decided that she was shocked to learn about contractors that were used by the Clinton Administration, and whose abuses were reported year after year after year during the Iraq War," said Obama spokesman Dan Pfeiffer.

UPDATE: McCain has continued his response to Clinton on CNN:

Well, all I can say is that she obviously does not understand nor appreciate the progress that has been made on the ground. She told General Petraeus last year when he testified that she would have to suspend disbelief in order to believe that the surge is working. Well, the surge is working.

UPDATE: Obama has offered a passing shot at Clinton's argument that he is just words, saying of her Iraq vote:

"I am not about to let Senator Clinton get away with saying this is just about speeches," he said, citing the human and financial cost of the war.

"Because of that vote, our troops have fought tour after tour after tour of duty," he said. "Because of that vote we are less safe..."

UPDATE: The Obama camp has launched a web video attacking Clinton's experience and judgment in voting for the Iraq War resolution: