Sen. Hillary Clinton, Democrat of New York.
Excerpts from Anderson Cooper's interview with Sen. Hillary Clinton at the Brooke Army Medical Center today in San Antonio, Texas.On leaving Iraq:ANDERSON COOPER:
You said this weekend that the president is responsible to extricate the United States (from Iraq). You said it would be irresponsible not to. Do you mean U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq by the time the next administration comes to power?SEN. HILLARY CLINTON:
...This was his war. He conceived it poorly. He executed it incompetently. He's pursuing a strategy that's more of the same. I see no change in direction. And that's what I've been calling for. I want to begin a phased redeployment of our troops.
I think there are still vital national interests in Iraq, particularly in Al Anbar Province, where we're fighting insurgents, particularly against Iran trying to extend its influence, particularly in the north. We have to work with Kurds to make sure they're able to continue building a better future. I just don't see that the present strategy is working or workable. I really don't understand how he's just so willing to pass this on without understanding what needs to be done to change direction to whoever comes after him. COOPER:
Extricate ... you think they should be out?CLINTON:
You know, it's problematic to set a deadline. I'd like to see a process. I'd like to see a strategy that is moving toward us beginning to move our troops, as I've called for over a year-and-a-half.COOPER:
You called for a cap. Obama [called for a cap]. Critics say if you believe there haven't been enough heretofore, what does capping do?CLINTON:
Well, cap is meant to send a signal, as is our effort to get a resolution of disapproval that he no longer has political support in the country or the congress for pursuing this policy. The cap is to literally cap the number of troops so that we can begin redeploying them out of Iraq. And we've got to start somewhere. And this gives us a way of making the argument that this president shouldn't be adding troops. He should begin subtracting troops. Now I'm a realist, and I know that we're still fighting to get just the resolution of disapproval through the congress on a bipartisan basis, but I think it's important to start laying down these markers and send this signal to the White House, to this president and this vice president.On taking care of wounded soldiers:COOPER:
This center cost $50 million. American citizens, some giving a dollar here, others large donation, have given a lot. It says a lot about the American people. What does it say about the government?CLINTON:
That's a really good question, Anderson. Obviously, we're unique in America because we have the partnership between our government and our citizens unlike anyone anywhere in the world. And we do meet needs that are not gonna be met. But this doesn't relieve the government responsibility for doing everything we can to fund the VA, to make sure every VA in the country is ready to prepare a welcome with the services that are necessary. So one of the reasons that I fight to get VA funding is because that is national obligation. But what the Fisher family and 600,000 donors decided to do was to speed the process. Unfortunately it takes a long time to get things done in our govt. COOPER:
Money has been earmarked for Walter Reed facility that hasn't been built.CLINTON:
In fact, there's even talk about closing Walter Reed. So we don't have facilities in place to deal with more than nearly now 23,000 wounded coming out of these conflicts. This is a great facility, where we are right now, the Fisher houses are really a truly private philanthropy that is to set up these living quarters so that families can come and be near their loved ones when they're recuperating. I've met a lot of families who've been living in Fisher houses for a year, year-and-a-half, because it takes that long. So we have this partnership, but that doesn't mean we should let government off the hook.COOPER:
We're not ready to meet the needs of our servicemen and women?CLINTON:
No, we're not.