Posted: July 23, 2007 6:34 PM
Clinton Spars with Pentagon over Iraq
New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton’s very public scuffle with the Pentagon over Iraq withdrawal plans continued last week when she called the Pentagon’s actions “outrageous and dangerous.”
In May, Clinton had requested a briefing on plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. In a July 16 letter, Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman refused Clinton’s request, telling the senator that outlining those plans would only reinforce “enemy propaganda.”
Clinton’s next move was to go directly to Defense Secretary Robert Gates. In a July 19 letter, she said, “Under Secretary Edelman has his priorities backward. Open and honest debate and congressional oversight strengthens our nation and supports our military. His suggestion to the contrary is outrageous and dangerous.” The next day, Clinton held a joint conference call with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to announce plans to introduce legislation that would force the Pentagon to brief Congress on potential withdrawal plans.
Iraq will surely come up when Clinton joins seven other Democratic candidates in Charleston, S.C. for Monday’s CNN/YouTube-sponsored debate. Although this debate is the first sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee, three unofficial debates have taken place this year, and “already, debate fatigue is setting in,” according to the Washington Post’s Anne Kornblut. After the debate, Clinton plans to drop by a party held at the Marriott hotel next door. A Republican version of the CNN/YouTube debate is planned for Sept. 17.
Some 400 women plan to host debate-watching parties, according to Jill Lawrence in a USA Today article in which she looks at Clinton’s “unprecedented” efforts to reach out to female voters by “building what amounts to a separate organization devoted to winning women’s votes.” Campaign-sponsored groups of women across the country supporting Clinton include “nurses, businesswomen, minority women, New Yorkers, young women and graduates of Wellesley, Clinton’s alma matter. It is courting female politicians and activists and other women with their own networks, such as book clubs and breast cancer groups.”
Presidential contender and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards’ wife Elizabeth made headlines with her comments in an hour-long interview with Salon.com July 14, in which she touted her husband’s efforts on women’s issues over Clinton’s, saying, “She’s just not as vocal a women’s advocate as I want to see. John is.”
Clinton’s staff includes six people devoted full-time to women’s outreach, while Edwards has one.
On Wednesday, the Clinton campaign announced a new initiative to reach out to grassroots supporters. The One Million Making History drive gives the one millionth person to sign up to support Clinton a chance to join the candidate on the campaign trail for a day.
According to the campaign, more than 981,000 supporters have signed up so far. The press release goes on to say, “Grassroots support for Hillary’s historic candidacy is broad and deep. Supporters have joined Hillary’s e-mail list, filled out supporter cards at rallies, made donations, signed up to volunteer, joined Women for Hillary, added their names to online petitions and held hundreds of debate watch parties.”
Clinton’s next stop is Portsmouth, N.H., where she is scheduled to participate in Seacoast Media Group’s Presidential Forum on Energy in the Environment on Tuesday. Her next public campaign event is a speech at the National Urban League in St. Louis on Friday.
Meanwhile, former President Clinton is midway through a week-long trip to Africa, where he is visiting the sites of various initiatives undertaken by his foundation, giving speeches on encouraging development and fighting HIV/AIDS, and celebrating the 89th birthday of friend and former South African president Nelson Mandela. The Christian Science Monitor’s Danna Harmand is traveling with the former president, and is filing a daily reporter’s notebook, along with audio slide shows.