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Clinton engages in heated exchange over Iran

  • Story Highlights
  • Sen. Hillary Clinton pressed while campaigning in Iowa
  • New York Democrat defends vote on Iranian Revolutionary Guard
  • Questioner says vote authorizes the president to invade Iran
  • Clinton denies vote authorizes invasion, suggests question was planted
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From Alexander Mooney
CNN Washington bureau
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Clinton engaged in a verbal tussle with a questioner over Iran Sunday at a town-hall style meeting after he said the New York Democrat had authorized the president to invade Iran.

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Sen. Hillary Clinton campaigns in New Hampton, Iowa, Sunday.

At the event in New Hampton, Iowa, a questioner took issue with Clinton's recent Senate vote calling on President Bush to formally call the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. He argued that such a distinction confers the president with the ability to invade the country.

"Why should I support your candidacy . . . if it appears you haven't learned from your past mistakes?" Randall Rolph asked, referring to Clinton's vote to authorize the president to use military force against Iraq.

Clinton began by telling Rolph "the premise of the question is wrong," and argued the measure calls for the terrorist label so sanctions can be imposed. The sanctions, she also said, will "send a clear message to the leadership" and lead to stronger diplomatic efforts.

The Democratic presidential front-runner then concluded by suggesting the question was planted, saying, "somebody obviously sent it to you." Video Listen to Clinton's heated exchange over Iran »

Rolph denied anyone had put him to the question.

"I take exception," Rolph fired back. "This is my own research. Nobody sent it to me, I am offended that you would suggest that."

"Let me finish," Clinton sharply responded, before saying "I apologize, I just have been asked the very same question in three other places."

Clinton then reiterated her position that the president does not have authority to launch an attack on Iran and said she was working on legislation with Democratic Virginia Sen. Jim Webb to put that into law.

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When the questioner maintained the terrorist labeling authorized force, Clinton, sounding clearly irritated said, "I am sorry, it does not."

Rolph has a history of asking particularly pointed questions of candidates. He has asked questions in a similar fashion at events for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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