Russert Confronts Hillary on Flip-Flops

Sunday, 23 Sep 2007 08:32 PM

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Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared on "Meet the Press" Sunday. Host Tim Russert pressed her on inconsistencies in her record:

  • Hillary told Newsweek magazine that the war in Iraq was the most important vote you cast in the U.S. Senate.

    Hillary's Response: "I am saying that, and, you know, I’ve been guided by what I believe is the principle that should govern any decisions that a member of the Senate or anyone in public life makes, and that is I try to do what I think is best for my country and for the troops who serve it. And I have seen no evidence that this administration is willing to change course in any significant way. We’re now nearly at 3800 dead, we have more than 30,000 injured. The Iraqi government has failed to fulfill its part of the bargain to deal with the political issues that all of us know have to be addressed. I don’t think the Bush administration has pursued the diplomatic agenda the way that it needed to be pursued. And there is no military solution. And these extraordinary, brave young men and women should begin to come home out of refereeing this sectarian civil war.

  • The Daily News, Hillary's home paper in New York, says that her positions on Iraq remain a tangle of contradictory and shifting elements.

    Russert: When you were last on "Meet the Press," I asked you specifically about a definite timetable to bring troops home, and this is what you said. "I think that would be a mistake.” And —“We don’t want to send a signal to the insurgents, to the terrorists that we’re going to be out of here at some, you know, date certain. I think that would be like a green light to go ahead and just bide your time.”

    Hillary's Response: Well, the circumstances on the ground have certainly compelled me to continue to evaluate what is in the best interest of our country and our troops. And it became unfortunately clear to me that if we were to maintain the failed policy of this president, we will be entangled in Iraq with many more deaths, with very little to show for it, Tim. I have the highest admiration for General Petraeus and for his officers and the men and women on the ground in Iraq. But there is no military solution, and the failure of the Iraqi government and of the Bush administration to deal on either the political or the diplomatic front has put our young men and women at risk. There is no doubt that they can fulfill whatever military mission they’re given; they have. They were asked to get rid of Saddam Hussein and they did. They were asked to give the Iraqis the security for fair and free elections and they did. And they were asked to give the Iraqi government the space and time to start making these very difficult political decisions.

  • Does Hillary support MoveOn.org's ad, “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?: Cooking the Books for the White House.”

    Hillary's Response: Absolutely not. He is a man of great honor and distinction who has served admirably. I don’t condone anything like that, and I have voted against those who would impugn the patriotism and the service of the people who wear the uniform of our country. I don’t believe that that should be said about General Petraeus, and I condemn that. I didn’t think it should’ve been said about Senator Cleland or Senator Kerry. I think it’s important that we end this kind of attacks on the patriotism of those who serve our country.

    But let’s be clear about this: This is not a debate about an ad. This is a debate about the direction we should pursue in Iraq, and if we focus on an ad, even though we have all voted, in one way or another, to condemn it and believe that we should cease any such impugning and attacks on anyone who serves our country, then, again, we’re not focused on what the real problem is.

  • Recently Hillary's campaign returned $850,000 in donations linked to Norman Hsu.

    Russert: You talk about the politics of change. Is this changing the way Washington does business?

    Hillary's Response: Well, I’m very much in favor of public financing, which is the only way to really change a lot of the problems that we have in our campaign finance system. You know, as soon as my campaign found out what I and dozens of other campaigns did not know, that he was a fugitive from justice, we took action. And out of an abundance of caution, we did return any contribution that we could in any way, no matter how indirect, link to him. And I believe that we’ve done what we needed to do based on the information as soon as it came to our attention. But we’ve gone even further, Tim, and we’re installing even additional kinds of checks because, you know, it was something that my campaign and other campaigns going back to 2003 did not uncover in all the vetting that we do. But the real answer here is public financing, and I’m going to work very hard in my time in the Senate and then in the White House to try to get to a public financing system that we can support under the constitution, because, as you know, we’ve got some constitutional issues we have to address, because that is the answer to all of these issues that have arisen.

  • Hillary is just too polarizing to be the Democratic nominee.

    Hillary's Response: Well, Tim, those are the things that were said about me in New York, as I’m sure you remember. And I worked very hard to give people accurate information about who I am, what I stand for, what I will do, and I was extremely gratified to win in 2000 and even more so to be re-elected with nearly 67 percent of the vote. And I was very pleased that a lot of that vote came from Republicans and independents. You know, I carried a lot of those counties that George Bush had carried just two years before, carried 58 of New York’s 62 counties and, as you know, there’re a lot of red parts of New York.

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