Iraq War Protestors Heckle Clinton at Liberal Conference

By Randy Hall | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

Washington ( - When Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) spoke to the liberal "Take Back America" conference on Tuesday, she emphasized the need for Democrats to win control of Congress in November. However, her speech drew vocal protests from several attendees who demanded that she "bring the troops home now" from Iraq.

The interruptions began when Clinton walked onstage to applause and a smattering of boos from the audience. Undaunted, the junior senator began her speech by stating that "the stakes could not be higher" because "right-wing" Republicans are engaged in the "systematic destruction of everything good that happened in the 20th Century."

The catcalls from the audience began when Clinton stated that "most of us want to support our troops." She added that "we need to keep faith with them and ensure they have body armor and the other equipment and training they need."

A few people in the auditorium shouted "No" before the senator continued.

"Now that there is a new Iraqi government - something that many of us have been waiting for and pushing for - then this Iraqi government needs to be told they have to take responsibility for their own security. And there must be a plan that will begin to bring our troops home," Clinton said to loud applause.

Clinton then criticized the Bush administration for allegedly rushing to war, refusing to let the United Nations inspectors complete their mission and committing "strategic blunder after blunder," all of which has "undermined America's leadership in the world and put at risk the long-term war against terrorism."

However, the senator from New York again drew an outcry from some in attendance when she added: "I do not think it is a smart strategy either for the president to continue with his open-ended commitment, which I think does not put enough pressure on the new Iraqi government, nor do I think it is smart strategy to set a date certain."

Clinton defended her stance by charging that "this administration has made the world more dangerous. We were united after 9/11, and this administration didn't follow through.

"We need steady, smart leadership, and the only way to get that is to elect a Democrat Congress that will hold this president accountable," she said.

"It's hard when you're in the minority," said Clinton after listing a number of bills she introduced that failed to win passage in the Republican-controlled Congress despite the efforts of "progressive Democrats and increasingly even some moderate independents and a few Republicans who have found their way back to sanity."

"What a price Americans have paid" for the GOP's control of government, Clinton noted, including "exploding debt, stagnant wages, rising poverty, more people without health insurance, a more polluted environment, weaker workplace protections, an anemic response to global warming, exploding oil prices, increasing crime rates, a deeply divided citizenry and more hostility and alienation from much of the rest of the world."

"I have been honored to fight for our values against the right wing's determination to take America away from our founders' vision of a more perfect union for many years," she said, "but I am tired of defining success by what we prevent. It is time for us to start defining success by what we can build."

The senator called the government's response to Hurricane Katrina "a national disgrace. When the president talks about an ownership society, he means you're on your own."

Clinton also stressed the need for a government return to fiscal responsibility, which "gives us the opportunity to promote the progressive agenda. We must attain fiscal responsibility, or we will never be able to achieve our goals."

Because of the Republicans' current "fiscal recklessness, we are unable to lead the world the way I think it should be led," she said. Members of the GOP "have the toughest rhetoric in the world. They must watch old cowboy movies every day. But when it comes to being tough, they leave a lot to be desired.

"I've frequently had Republicans come to me and say they've had enough," Clinton added. "For some, it was the deficit and reckless fiscal policies. For some, it was the unbelievably shameless exploitation of Terri Schiavo and her family. For some, it was the assault on Social Security.

"For some, it is the Iraq war, our failure to protect our homeland, the incompetent policies and misplaced priorities of this administration," she said. "For nearly everyone, it was Katrina. How could we let that happen?

"Well, the best way we can prevent it from ever happening again is to stand up, stand up for progressive values and progressive politics and stand up for winning elections," Clinton concluded.

As she left the stage, Clinton received a standing ovation, although a number of attendees chanted "Bring the troops home now."

As Cybercast News Service previously reported, Clinton has recently been the target of anti-war protestors, including at a May 23 speech on energy.

A spokesman for the Republican National Committee was not immediately available for reaction to Clinton's comments.

See Earlier Story:
Clinton Seeks 'Energy Revolution' Fueled by Tax on Oil Profits (May 24, 2006)

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