Hillary Clinton made an early morning appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe today, offering a discussion that was primarily tied to Iraq War strategy. Along the way, Clinton offered tepid support for General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, set to testify before Congress today, and jabbed most sharply at GOP contender John McCain. She made no mention of her primary opponent, Barack Obama.
SCARBOROUGH: We were just talking to Pat Buchanan who said he believes that John McCain is going to focus on Iran more than Iraq today. What do you expect to hear from General Petraeus and what do you want to hear?
CLINTON: Well, Joe, I think there's three things, first I'm sure that both the General and the Ambassador who are performing under extraordinary difficult circumstances with, you know, great professionalism and patriotism will do the best job they can to support the Bush administration's policy and particularly the decision as I understand it, not to continue withdrawing our troops, which I think is a mistake. I believe also that we will hear a lot of discussion about the benefits that have come from this surge, but of course that has to be put in the context of the underlying reason for the surge was to create the political space for the Iraqis to make their own decisions and to do so in a responsible manner which has not taken place. So I don't know that that's a very convincing argument at the end of the day. And finally I think that Pat Buchanan is right, there will be a lot of discussion about what next. A year ago, the president put forth this policy and it doesn't look like we're any closer to resolution than we were a year ago. A year from now, there will be a new president and I'm committed to withdrawing our troops, rebuilding our military and pursuing a different strategy with the rest of the world that will enhance our security and our interests.
BRZEZINSKI: Senator Clinton, John McCain had said recently and we actually have this soundbite, he says I don't believe any candidate for president should make a promise they can't keep and promising withdrawal amounts to a failure in leadership. What is your response to that especially when a recent poll shows that voters have confidence in John McCain when it comes to dealing with this war situation?
CLINTON: I have the greatest respect for Senator McCain, he's a friend of mine, but he's just dead wrong. It's a failure of leadership not to face the reality that America has made very little significant progress toward it's ultimate goal of creating an Iraqi government that can stabilize Iraq and make decisions that are in Iraqis' best interest and even as we see today, you've got the Sadr faction and their militia basically battling Shiite on Shiite. And for some it's not only a battle for power and advantage, of course, but Iran is interfering with Iraqis internal affairs and the Shiite dominated government hasn't produced very much for the Iraqi people. So the bottom line for me is, as it has been, that as president I would begin a withdrawal within 60 days. I would do everything I could to stabilize the Iraqi government as we are withdrawing because I think that, frankly, the withdrawal is the only way to get the Iraqi government's attention that they have no more time, no more blank checks and they have to act as they have been promising to do so far.
Clinton was also asked about the recent demotion of campaign insider Mark Penn, and about the Washington Post's tracking down the truth of her health insurance anecdote. Clinton offered little on the Penn matter, saying only the "appropriate action" was taken. As for the Post, Clinton expressed "appreciation" for "tracking down the story." Previously, it was the Post's research into Clinton's Tuzla sniper story that drove a fortnight's worth of bad press for the former First Lady.
Clinton's overall clout with the media will be on display this morning, as she is set to appear across the morning news. She will make separate appearances today on Good Morning America, American Morning, and Fox & Friends.