New York Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had two opportunities to address the issue of Iraq during a public forum Saturday in Des Moines, but she chose to avoid the issue. On Sunday in Davenport, though, Clinton did respond, saying she resents that President Bush had made a "mess" of Iraq and calling upon Bush to "extricate" the U.S. from Iraq before he leaves office.
Clinton also was pressed on Iraq by members of the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee when she met with them Saturday morning. Many Iowa Democrats have questioned why Clinton has not renounced her 2002 vote to authorize the war. "I have said on numerous occasions that if we knew then what we know now…the congress never would have voted to give the president authority and I would have not voted to give the president authority," Clinton said. "I think that I’ve taken responsibility for my vote, but there are no do-overs in life. I wish there were. You know, I acted on the best judgement that I had at the time, and at the time I said that this was not a vote for pre-emptive war."
Clinton and her aides have begun stressing that last part. "The president took my vote and other votes and basically misused the authority we gave him," Clinton said. "…When I’m president, I would never do something like this…I would never have diverted our attention and our focus from Afghanistan."
During her appearance in Davenport Sunday, Clinton said Bush went into Iraq with "an ill-conceived plan. She also called it "an incompetantly-executed" strategy.
"It is tragic the mistakes he has made in conceiving this war and executing it, especially the incompetence he has brought to the planning and implementation of his policy," Clinton said.