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Debate Take-Away: Hillary Clinton's Exit Strategy on Iraq is to Withdraw from her Past

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During last night's debate, Hillary Clinton once again tried to fudge her position on Iraq, saying of the president: "He threatens to veto the legislation we have passed, which has been something that all of us have been advocating for a number of years."

This was a deliberate attempt to mislead voters, and I said so on Larry King during our post-debate analysis. Howard Wolfson, Hillary's communications director, jumped to her defense: "She has been calling for a phased withdrawal for two years," he said. "Feel free to look it up." And, driving home after the show, I received an email from Judd Legum, who heads up Clinton's research team, offering more evidence showing that "she's advocated phased redeployment since '05."

The problem is, Hillary's "all of us" statement wasn't about advocating "phased withdrawal" or advocating "phased redeployment." It was about advocating for the position in the legislation that was just passed -- legislation that sets a date certain deadline for withdrawal of troops from Iraq. And less than a year ago, on June 13, 2006 to be precise -- which, if I remember first grade, is less than "two years," Howard, and less than "a number of years," Senator -- Hillary Clinton made it clear that she was against setting a deadline, saying she did not "think it is smart strategy to set a date certain. I do not agree that that is in the best interest of our troops or our country."

Memo to Hillary and Howard: "I do not agree..." is NOT part of "advocating," it is part of "opposing." Feel free to look it up.

What's more, on May 26, 2005 -- still less than two years ago -- Hillary told Judy Woodruff on CNN, "I am not one who feels comfortable setting exit strategies. We don't know what we're exiting from... How do we know where we're headed when we don't know where we are?" Very existential, but also NOT part of advocating for the policy laid out in the new legislation. (As I wrote then: "Senator Clinton, if you are not 'comfortable setting exit strategies,' can you direct us to someone who is? Because our soldiers are dying every day waiting for someone who is comfortable setting an exit strategy.")

Hillary Clinton's unmistakable campaign goal is to blur any difference between her and her opponents -- especially Obama -- on the war. As the tide of public sentiment has turned against the war, she has clearly grown comfortable setting a personal exit strategy -- one that will offer her a way to withdraw from the corner she has painted herself into on Iraq.

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