Voter skepticism haunts Hillary


Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton faced questions Saturday from New Hampshire voters skeptical about her stand on the Iraq war, including one who demanded that she repudiate her 2002 Senate vote to send U.S. troops into battle.

In her first presidential campaign visit to the early voting state, Clinton focused on her plans to revive struggling small-town economies, provide universal health care and make college more affordable. But at a town hall meeting in rural Berlin and at a boisterous gathering of some 3,000 people in the state capital, Concord, Clinton was peppered with questions about Iraq.

Most of the questions were cordial, and Clinton was loudly cheered when she repeated her pledge to end the war if she is elected president next year. But several attendees challenged the New York senator to explain how she could reconcile her sharp criticism of the war with her vote to authorize the original invasion.

“Aren’t you trying to have it both ways?” asked a man in Concord.

Clinton acknowledged “a great deal of frustration and anger and outrage” over the war, and said she was working hard in the Senate to pass legislation capping troop levels in Iraq. She also vowed to try to bring to a vote a resolution disapproving of President Bush’s planned troop increase.

“I’m still in the arena,” she said — an apparent riposte to a Democratic rival, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. Like Clinton, Edwards voted to authorize the invasion, but he has become a staunch war critic since leaving the Senate in 2004.

“It’s very easy to go around and say, ‘Let’s end the war,'” Clinton added. “If we had a Democratic president we would end the war.”

Her toughest question came in Berlin, a struggling mill town in northern New Hampshire.

Roger Tilton, 46, a financial adviser from Nashua, N.H., told Clinton that unless she recanted her vote, he was not in the mood to listen to her other policy ideas.

“I want to know if right here, right now, once and for all and without nuance, you can say that war authorization was a mistake,” Tilton said. “I, and I think a lot of other primary voters — until we hear you say it, we’re not going to hear all the other great things you are saying.”

In response, Clinton repeated her assertion that “knowing what we know now, I would never have voted for it,” and said voters would have to decide for themselves whether her position was acceptable.

“The mistakes were made by this president, who misled this country and this Congress,” Clinton said to loud applause.

Later, Tilton said he was not satisfied with her answer and was inclined to support either Edwards or Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who announced his candidacy Saturday.

“I love what she says about health care, I love what she says about capping troop levels, I love what she says about the war now,” Tilton said, adding he would remain undecided until she offered a clearer answer.

Clinton’s refusal to recant her vote has been a sore point for many Democratic activists who tend to vote heavily in the party’s primaries.

Edwards, the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee, has said his vote was wrong. Obama was not in the Senate in 2002 but has opposed the war from the outset.

For the most part, Clinton was received warmly at both New Hampshire gatherings. People cheered her loudly, with intermittent shouts of “We love you, Hillary!” and “You go, girl!”

In Berlin, retired firefighter Henry Boucher said Clinton had won his vote.

“I never thought I’d vote for a woman, but this one here I’m going to support,” Boucher, 65, said.

On Sunday, Clinton planned to attend house parties in Manchester and Nashua before a town hall meeting in Keene.

It was Clinton’s first visit to New Hampshire since 1996, when as first lady she campaigned for the re-election of her husband.

New Hampshire was widely credited with reviving Bill Clinton’s presidential prospects in 1992. He placed second in the state’s primary amid a torrent of allegations about marital infidelity and questions about whether he had avoided military service in Vietnam.

He labeled himself “the comeback kid” after that primary, and went on to win the Democratic nomination and the general election.

Hillary Clinton reminisced about the warm welcome New Hampshire voters had given the Clintons in 1992, and said her husband envied her weekend visit to the state.

“The only thing I will try to do differently from my husband is not to make so many Dunkin’ Donuts stops,” she said to laughter. “Bill gained about 20 pounds in the New Hampshire primary and I cannot afford that.”

She called her husband a “full-time political counselor” but nodded as Evelyn Owen, 69, of Salem, N.H., described waiting 12 hours for Bill Clinton to autograph a copy of his memoir.

“I’ve waited for him a lot myself,” the senator cracked.


On the Net:

Hillary Clinton for President

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press


  1. Yolanda Jurado

    Kent Shaw is right about Hillary. Her ego is just like Bush’s, “What me, fallible?” She’s just another politician, the fact that she’s a woman makes no difference. My husband and I marched against the war before the invasion…the information we found was known to all who voted for the invasion; this crap about “we were mislead”, is bullshit…it’s like the Bob Dylan song: You just want to be on the side that’s winning”…and Hillary didn’t have the balls to stand up and do something really courageous, i.e. say to Bush, NO, NO, You’re a liar, Mr. Bush and I will not vote for this war. She doesn’t deserve my trust, or yours.

  2. Kent Shaw


    All Hillary needs to do is say “I’m sorry. I was wrong to vote for the AUMF resolution. I made a mistake.” And the voters would rally behind her. But she is as stubborn as George Bush and just as incapable of admitting a mistake. This says all I need to know about her.


  3. Ray

    I am beginning to feel that it ain’t gonna be an issue at all. The way the media is selling this latest hype about Iran supplying bombs, the time is getting near when there will be an event that will ignite the planet. Not even a hint from the war machine about compromise. The drums beat louder than ever before. In the coming days there will be an ever increasing media push directed at Iran and the horror in Iraq will be less mentioned. Only when accusing Iran directly. Example: High tech devices supplied by Iran has killed 170 americans. That is really good investigative science to exact a number of deaths from shrapnel. This is worse than terrible. I truly have a very bad feeling for our future. This insanity is not going to end and the worst imaginable is coming. These evil bastards are going to set off a mini-nuke, possibly Chicago, and ww111 will be upon us. Iran will be blamed. It will be just like 911 where the media planted the lies and the image of who did it within 30 minutes after the towers were hit. If you believe in prayer this is a good time to use it. If you don’t believe in it, do it anyway we need all the help we can get, my friends.

  4. Steve E.

    Hillary, oh please! There was PLENTY of evidence at the time that this could be a bunch of BS. Her vote was total political cover. As Senator from New York, she made the craven political decision to appease the understandably rabid electorate there, to appear tough on terrorism. It would have been courageous, but poltically suicidal, to vote against this in her position.

    And I think that’s why I could never vote for her. No courage at all. Politics as usual.

    Repudiating her vote would be a tacit admission of this point. As long as she can blame Bush to hide her own lack of courage, she won’t admit HER error.

  5. I don’t buy the gullibility excuse. Hillary was in Israel and Big Oil’s pocket, or they had blackmail on her. She is very smart, but her values are those of a lower middle class opportunist.

  6. Kent Shaw

    Eleanor: “When this all first happened just about every American believed what Bush and Cheney put out and I don’t think any of us doubted it was necessary.”

    Sorry, but I strongly disagree. I believe most people were dumbfounded by what seemed to me to be obviously trumped up reasons to go to war with Iraq. Bush told us that Iraq ordered the weapons inspectors out of Iraq. This is a bold-faced LIE. The Bush administration ordered the inspection teams out of Iraq. Blix and Ritter and their teams had found nothing that indicated Iraq was developing WMD, specifically Cheney’s “reconstituted efforts” to build nuclear arms. And as long as inspections and talks were going on no one was dying needlessly and infrastructure was not being destroyed needlessly. Iraq was being successfully contained. Sorry, but I have to call you on this one. Just not so.

  7. Jim

    Amendment 22 (1951)

    President’s Term Is Restricted

    “No person may be elected to the office of President more than twice”

    Shouldn’t the definition of “person” be inclusive of husband and wife teams?

  8. Yes Eleanor, all of us were lied to — but alot of us realized that fact and questioned the lies.

    Hillary Clinton — a U.S. Senator — was

    certainly in a position to stridently question those lies and she stood mute because it was politically expedient.

  9. Eleanor

    Skeptical of her stand to send troops to Iraq? Then every one of us needs to be examined in that area. When this all first happened just about every American believed what Bush and Cheney put out and I don’t think any of us doubted it was necessary. We then found out about the lies and realized our men and women were sent there based on lies. And just about everyone changed their minds. By then it was too late because we were already there. My choice(s) will be made not on something that happened based on lies but rather WHERE DO YOU STAND ON ISSUES SUCH AS HEALTH CARE; CIVIL RIGHTS BEING STRIPPED AWAY FROM ALL OF US; THE POOR GETTING POORER; THE DECREASE IN HELP FOR THE ELDERLY WHO, WHEN GETTING A PIDDLY INCREASE IN SOCIAL SECURITY THEN GETS STRIPPED THAT MUCH IN FOOD STAMPS THAT ARE A NECESSITY IN ORDER TO EAT; THE HIGH COST OF DRUGS NEEDED BY MANY. She was lied to just like the rest of us about Iraq, found out the truth and changed her stance.

  10. 3,123 American soldier have been “wasted” in Iraq as of February 11, 2007 and 23,417 have been wounded in action — all because “Dubya” wanted to be a “war president.”

    The alleged Queen of the “Democratic opposition” also bears a responsibility for the death and destruction resulting from the invasion of Iraq.

    Senator Hillary Clinton failed to ask the tough questions,when tough questions should have been asked about George Bush’s plan to invade Iraq.

    She looked the other way while our soldiers were sent to fight and die in Iraq — and she remained silent while bona fide patriots were castigated for speaking out against the war.

    It was a cold, calculated, political maneuver intended to impress Red State Republicans, and the result, to date, is a host of dead, disabled and disfigured American soldiers all because “Hillary Dearest” wants to be our next president.

  11. Ray

    Hillary has been chosen by the Bilderberger group to be the next president. The last meeting they had was the first for Hillary, hence she was briefed. She is shadier than Bill ever was. People, please see past the smoke and mirrors. The last three administrations have been controlled by a Bush or Clinton. Bush41 ran Reagans policies during ronnies terms, then his term. Clintons and Bushes have been joined at the hip in thier drug smuggling enterprise for years. It is Hillary’s turn to play the suckers. If all voters marked thier ballots for Alfred E Newman, Hillary would still be announced winner in 2008. She is just another snake in the grass. Don’t be fooled. Although it won’t make a difference who you vote for, has’nt since the 80’s.

  12. gene

    And just how in the hell is she going to fix health care, job issues (that will soon be growing like crazy in the housing industry) and other vital areas america depends on. We basically have no industry to speak of, factories are gone for the most part. We continue to hire illegal immigrants from south of the border and else where only because they will egeraly take our trash jobs. Where is she going to get the funds to “fix” anything. More senseless talk from another (want-a-be) king of the world, in this case, queen bee. If we could export all the talk that eminates from the mouths of politians we could balance the budget in no time. Unfortunately, talk is cheap and who wants to pay for bullshit. At least the real bullshit could be used for fertilizer. Our political system has become a joke that has set the stage for our destruction. Bush and his gain of criminals are now in the process of starting another war and I suspect the world will pay attention this time.

  13. Kent Shaw

    Hillary Clinton is as (pardon the pun) constitutionally unable to admit a mistake as is George Bush. She is an arrogant opportunist. She is a warmonger. Anyone who would vote for her under any circumstance is at best uninformed and at worst as bad as she.