This morning on Meet the Press, Hillary Clinton defended her 2002 vote for the Iraq war resolution, saying that she "thought it was a vote to put inspectors back in" so Saddam Hussein could not go unchecked. She insisted that she and others were "told by the White House personally" that this was the purpose of the resolution, and cited President Bush's assurances to defend her position.
Moderator Tim Russert pointed out that the title of the resolution was the "Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002."
Clinton responded saying, "We can have this Jesuitical argument about what exactly was meant. But when Chuck Hagel, who helped to draft the resolution said, 'It was not a vote for war,' What I was told directly by the White House in response to my question, 'If you are given this authority, will you put the inspectors in and permit them to finish their job,' I was told that's exactly what we intended to do. "
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Clinton also attacked Barack Obama's record on ethics and the Iraq war. Obama responded during a conference call this morning:
What we saw this morning is why the American people are tired of Washington politicians and the games they play. But Senator Clinton made an unfortunate remark, an ill advised remark, about King and Lyndon Johnson. I didn't make the statement. I haven't remarked on it and she I think offended some folks who felt that somehow diminished King's role in bringing about the Civil Rights Act. She is free to explain that, but the notion that somehow this is our doing is ludicrous.
I have to point out that instead of telling the American people about her positive vision for America, Senator Clinton spent an hour talking about me and my record in a way that was flat out wrong. She suggested that I didn't clearly and unambiguously oppose the war in Iraq when it is absolutely clear and anyone who has followed this knows that I did. I stood up against the war when she was voting for it, at a time when she didn't read the intelligence reports or give diplomacy a chance. She belittled the most sweeping ethics reform since Watergate despite the fact that she stood on the sidelines during that negotiations on that bill.
I have to say that she started this campaign saying that she wanted to make history and lately she has been spending a lot of time rewriting it. I know that in Washington it is acceptable to say or do anything it takes to get elected but I really don't think that is the kind of politics that is good for our party and I don't think it is good for our country and I think that the American people will reject it in this election.
What I want to do is spend talking about how we are going to make sure that people who are losing their jobs get work. How are we going to make sure that our young people are going to afford college? How are we going to make sure that the sub-prime lending crisis does not lead to an all out recession? How are we going to create the kind of foreign policy that allows us to bring our troops home and makes us safer and goes after a genuine terrorist threat? Those are the issues that we are going to spend time talking about in this campaign and if Senator Clinton wants to be distracted by the sorts of political point scoring that was evident today then that is going to be her prerogative.