Hillary gets grief over Iran vote

Democratic rivals assailed front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton Tuesday for a vote against Iran that they portrayed as misguided and dangerous in light of a new intelligence report that says the Iranians stopped pursuing a nuclear weapon years ago.

One month before Iowa’s leadoff caucuses — in a debate broadcast only on radio — the presidential candidates stood together in welcoming the report’s assessment and criticizing President Bush’s assertion that “nothing’s changed” because of it. They divided on the three-month-old Senate vote to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization — a resolution that only Clinton supported among the Democratic candidates. She said her vote was meant to encourage diplomacy, but several of her foes were having none of that and John Edwards said it sounded like war.

Broadcast on NPR, the debate was limited to three subjects: Iran, China and immigration. The Democrats, unlike the campaign’s Republican contenders, proposed no drastic crackdown on illegal immigrants. On China, they said more should be done to put U.S. companies on equal footing with Chinese imports, but again they proposed no radical new remedies.

The candidates sat in front of large radio microphones at a V-shaped table at the Iowa State Historical Museum. With no audience to see them in person or via video, they dressed more casually than in previous debates. Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich was the only one to keep on his jacket and tie.

Their interaction with each other was relatively civil compared with the sniping between the campaigns of Clinton and rivals Barack Obama and Edwards in recent days.

Edwards did confront Clinton on her characterization of her September Iran vote.

“Declaring a military group sponsored by the state of Iran a terrorist organization, that’s supposed to be diplomacy?” Edwards interjected. “This has to be considered in the context that Senator Clinton has said she agrees with George Bush terminology that we’re in a global war on terror, then she voted to declare a military group in Iran a terrorist organization. What possible conclusion can you reach other than we are at war?”

Clinton objected. “You know I understand politics and I understand making outlandish political charges, but this really goes way too far,” said the New York senator. She is locked in a tight three-way race with Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina, and Obama, a senator from Illinois, in this first-voting state.

“None of us is advocating a rush to war,” Clinton said.

Joe Biden, a senator from Delaware who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, didn’t let that pass, telling Clinton that “terminology matters.”

“It’s not about not advocating a rush to war,” he said. “I’m advocating no war.”

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd said he and others voted against the resolution because they felt it “specifically eliminated any option except the military one.”

“Those critical moments come periodically, but it demonstrates leadership on a critical issue such as this one,” Dodd said. Obama missed the vote while campaigning in New Hampshire.

“Among the Democratic candidates,” Edwards reminded listeners, “there’s only one that voted for this resolution. And this is exactly what Bush and Cheney wanted.”

Iowa is scheduled to hold the first presidential nominating contest during caucuses on Jan. 3. While Clinton is the clear front-runner in national polls, Iowa is a more heated contest and her Iranian vote has been an issue with the state’s voters.

The seven candidates participating in the debate began by agreeing that the United States should shift its focus in dealing with Iran to diplomatic engagement.

“President Bush continues to not let facts get in the way of his ideology,” said Obama. “They should have stopped the saber rattling, should have never started it. And they need, now, to aggressively move on the diplomatic front.”

Clinton said it’s clear that pressure on Iran has had an effect — a point disputed by Biden.

“With all due respect with anybody who thinks that pressure brought this about, let’s get this straight. In 2003, they stopped their program,” Biden said.

On China, none of the candidates was willing to raise import taxes to make higher-priced U.S. products more competitive with Chinese products. Edwards pledged that none of his children’s Christmas toys would come from China, and Dodd interjected to up the ante.

“My toys are coming from Iowa,” Dodd said in an appeal to the race’s first voters.

The discussion of immigration was in sharp contrast to the Republican debate last week in which the GOP candidates tried to outmaneuver each other on who would be tougher on illegal immigrants. The Democratic candidates said they were not willing to encourage Americans to arrest illegal citizens.

“We do not deputize the American people to do the job that the federal government is supposed to do,” Obama said.

Kucinich agreed, saying, “We don’t encourage vigilantism in this country.”

Clinton said immigrants are part of the U.S. community and probably made the hotel beds that some of the candidates stayed in.

“They are embedded in our society,” she said. “If we want to listen to the demagogues and the calls for us to begin to try to round up people and turn every American into a suspicious vigilante, I think we will do graver harm to the fabric of our nation than any kind of person-by-person reporting of someone who might be here illegally.”

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson missed the debate to attend a memorial service for a Korean War soldier whose remains he brought home from North Korea in April.


  1. CheckerboardStrangler

    Bush only insists nothing’s changed because there is another REAL REASON he wants to go to war with Iran.
    That reason is simple:
    Iran is switching from dollars to Euros for ALL its oil transactions, same as Saddam tried to do in the past.

  2. Pablo

    Good they are calling Hillary on this Iran thing; I was hoping the intelligence report would be seen as damning to her! I think Edwards did a good job and worded his confrontation well, which is in sharp contrast to hillary’s response:

    “You know I understand politics and I understand making outlandish political charges, but this really goes way too far,”

    For those that didn’t understand, let me translate that:”Well, blah blah blah-bluh!” Quite convincing, huh?

    Sadly though, if the press keeps talking her up, she’ll get in anyway. Although I feel that Kucinich is by far the best candidate, Edwards might not be so bad. I like it that he gives a shit about poor people. I’d have some hope for my country if he was the best we could do.

    Anyway, I’m from a state where my vote doesn’t count anyway, so why should I get all worked up over an election?

  3. ekaton

    I keep hoping Kucinich will win Iowa by a landslide. The press hypes “the frontrunners” which are the frontrunners only because the press keeps hyping them as such. I keep hoping the people are paying attention, that the people will vote in their own best interest which, to me anyway, is obviously Kucinich. What will the press do with Kucinich if he takes 80% of the Iowa vote? Will they keep pimping for Hillary and Obama? What if Ron Paul takes Iowa in a similar landslide. Will the press still hype Romney and Rudy Ghoul?

    — Kent Shaw

  4. DejaVuAllOver

    Hillary’s a Senator from Noo Yawk, the neocon / zionist capital of the known universe. If she hasn’t got the guts or sense to stand up to Joe Lieberman, how the H$LL will she ever fix ANYTHING? Send this idiot on a long, long vacation. Someplace very far away.

  5. ekaton

    Lieberman. Liberman? Hmmmm. I’m sure I’ve heard that name before. Isn’t he the chairman of the Knesset?

    — Kent Shaw

  6. Carl Nemo

    What do they expect from “Billary”…?! She’s nothing more than a running dog for her NWO/AIPAC/PNAC/MIC controllers. She hasn’t had an original thought in years. She simply marches to their left-right…left-right jody calls. I have no idea why people expect more from her.

    Elect her to the presidency and “we the people” will be getting Bushco in “spades”. We’ll be in Iraq and Afghanistan until the 12th of never!

    Just visualize this folks, you’ve foolishly elected her and you’ll have to listen to the MSM shove her and her idiotic unfunded, under-funded, socialistic plans for us down our collective throats, daily, for four or more years…!

    Carl Nemo **==

  7. ekaton

    Hillary as president would be a total disaster. She votes with Bush and does not confront him on any of his unconstitutional actions. She wants those same “unitary” presidential powers usurped by Bush and she will use them, as Carl might put it, “until the 12th of never”.

    — Kent Shaw