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Clinton Promises to End War
Associated Press  |  February 03, 2007
WASHINGTON - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday she would not have attacked Iraq if she were president in 2002 and would end the war if elected, as she tried to blunt rivals like John Edwards who are stoking anti-war passions in the Democratic Party.

Clinton, raising her voice at one point to be heard above anti-war hecklers, suggested that calls from Edwards and others to cut off funding for President Bush's troop increase are unlikely to win approval in a narrowly divided Senate.

"Believe me, I understand the frustration and the outrage," Clinton said in a speech to the Democratic National Committee meeting that brought the party's nine White House hopefuls together for the first time. "You have to have 60 votes to cap troops, to limit funding to do anything. If we in Congress don't end this war before January 2009, as president, I will."

The New York senator's comments were her strongest against the war and signal an effort to confront one of the biggest threats to her front-runner status. As the conflict nears the four-year mark, she has been on the opposite side of the most outspoken anti-war activists who are a force in the Democratic primaries.

Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois reminded the party's rank-and-file - twice - that he was against the Iraq invasion from the beginning.

"But whether you were for it or against it then, we all have a responsibility now to put forth a plan that offers the best chance of ending the bloodshed and bringing the troops home," Obama told the audience.

Edwards voted with Clinton in 2002 to authorize Bush's war against Iraq, a vote he defended during his 2004 presidential race but has since said was a mistake. The former North Carolina senator has gone from being a war apologist to one of the most outspoken critics of the invasion in this campaign.

"Silence is a betrayal," Edwards said, one of 11 times he used the word betrayal in his 18-minute speech. "It is a betrayal not to stop this president's plan to escalate the war when we have the responsibility, the power and the ability to stop it. We cannot be satisfied with passing nonbinding resolutions that we know this president will ignore."

Edwards was referring to a measure being debated in the Senate that would say lawmakers disagree with the president's decision to increase troop levels in an effort to stabilize Baghdad. Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, another 2008 candidate, also criticized the effort as meaningless.

"I don't believe spending a week debating a nonbinding resolution is the change that America voted for" in November when Democrats won a majority in Congress, Dodd said. "With all due respect, a real bill and real teeth and real accountability is what is needed in our country again."

Clinton said while the resolution may not be perfect, it represents the first time Congress has stood against the president on the war.

"There are many people who wish we could do more," Clinton said.

"You can!" came a call from a small gathering of activists from the peace group Code Pink. Others in their group standing along a side wall chimed in, calling for a binding resolution that would end the war immediately, while some nearby audience members asked them to quiet down.

"But let me say," Clinton said, her voice rising above the din, "that if we can get a large, bipartisan vote to disapprove this president's plan for escalation, that will be the first time that we will have said no to President Bush and began to reverse his policies. Now, I want to go further."

"Bring them home, then," said a man dressed in desert camouflage that said "Iraq Veterans Against the War." Clinton said she has proposed capping U.S. troop levels and pulling funding for Iraqi forces, but won't cut funding for U.S. troops while they are on the battlefield.

"And let me add one other thing, and I want to be very clear about this," she said. "If I had been president in October of 2002, I would not have started this war."

Former Gen. Wesley Clark, who has not indicated whether he will run, said he's the only potential candidate with the battlefield experience to succeed in Iraq.

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich called for an immediate end to the war - the same message he ran on in 2004. But it's now is being echoed by several other candidates in a stronger position to win the nomination.

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