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Clinton Presses for Democratic Do-Over in Mich., Fla.

March 19, 2008 at 6:10 PM EDT
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RAY SUAREZ: Republican Sen. John McCain stopped in Israel today as part of his ongoing European and Middle East tour, aimed at burnishing his foreign policy credentials ahead of November’s presidential election.

McCain was greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and met with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Afterwards, he spoke about the continuing unrest between Israel and Hamas-controlled Gaza.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), Arizona: I know that the United States government is fully committed to trying to stop this violence, this cross-border violence that’s taking place.

RAY SUAREZ: McCain made no mention of Iraq today, but his campaign did issue the following statement on this, the fifth anniversary of the war: “Americans should be proud that they led the way in removing a vicious, predatory dictator and opening the possibility of a free and stable Iraq. Americans should be proud that, once we implemented the surge and new counterinsurgency strategy, a dire situation has been dramatically improved.”

“And Americans know that the consequences of failure would leave our nation less secure for generations to come.”

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton campaigned in Detroit, where she pressed rival Barack Obama to agree to redo balloting in Michigan and Florida. Those states had their convention delegates stripped by the national party for holding their primaries in January in defiance of party rules.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), N.Y.: We need to either count the votes that have already been cast in Michigan and Florida or have new, full and fair elections, so that we can have your voices and your votes counted.

Senator Obama speaks passionately on the campaign trail about empowering the American people. Today, I’m urging him to match those words with actions, to make sure the people of Michigan and Florida have a voice and a vote in this election.

RAY SUAREZ: Clinton also talked up her plans for Iraq and noted the significance of the day.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON: We have to restore America’s leadership and our moral authority, and that means we’ve got to begin ending the war in Iraq.

And I have been outlining this week, as we mark the fifth anniversary of George Bush’s pre-emptive war that he waged, I have been outlining plans as to what we can and must do to begin bringing our sons and daughters home.

I am convinced that we can start within 60 days and do it in a responsible and careful manner, recognizing that the Iraqi government has to take responsibility for its own future, that we have given them the precious gift of freedom, and it is up to them to decide whether or not they will use it.

But we cannot win their civil war; there is no military solution.

RAY SUAREZ: Barack Obama was in Fayetteville, N.C., to deliver a speech focused entirely on Iraq and national security. Obama contrasted his judgment with that of those who authorized the war.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), Ill.: The lesson of Iraq is that when we are making decisions about matters as grave as war, we need a policy rooted in reason and facts, not ideology and politics.

Now we are debating who should be our next commander-in-chief. And I am running for president because it’s time to turn the page on a failed ideology and a fundamentally flawed political strategy so that we can make pragmatic judgments to keep our country safe.

That’s what I did when I stood up and opposed this war from the start and said that we needed to finish the fight against al-Qaida. And that’s what I’ll do as president of the United States.

RAY SUAREZ: Obama also took direct aim at Clinton and McCain for recent comments they’ve made on Iraq.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Now, Senator Clinton has tried to use my position to score political points, suggesting that because I want to withdraw prudently and would listen to our commanders on the ground that I’m somehow less than fully committed to ending the war.

She makes this argument despite the fact that she’s taken the same position in the past. So ask yourself: Who do you trust to end a war, someone who opposed the war from the beginning or someone who started opposing it when they started preparing a run for president?

Now, we know what we’ll hear from those like John McCain who support open-ended war. They will argue that leaving Iraq is surrender, that we are emboldening the enemy.

These are the mistaken and misleading arguments we hear from those who have failed to demonstrate how the war in Iraq has made us safer. Just yesterday, we heard Sen. McCain confuse Sunni and Shia, Iran and al-Qaida. Maybe that is why he voted to go to war with a country that had no al-Qaida ties.

Maybe that is why he completely fails to understand that the war in Iraq has done more to embolden America’s enemies than any strategic choice that we have made in decades.

RAY SUAREZ: The Iraq war is surpassed only by the economy as the top issue on the minds of voters.