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Thursday, May 17, 2007
Opponents hammer Clinton on Iraq

Clinton's presidential opponents are attacking her Iraq stance.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Some of Sen. Hillary Clinton's Democratic presidential opponents are accusing the New York Democrat of giving contradictory statements and being intentionally vague about a critically important issue: her position on Iraq.

Clinton is denying the charge, which stems from conflicting answers about the meaning of her "yes" vote cast Wednesday on a proposal to cut off funding for Iraq.

Cutting funding for the Iraq mission is a drastic step towards ending the war that until now Clinton, as well as two of her opponents for the Democratic nomination: Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Joe Biden, have opposed. The Senate vote on Wednesday, which failed, was a so-called "cloture" motion.

Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines made it clear Wednesday that she supported both that procedural measure and the underlying bill to choke funding for Iraq.

But when asked Wednesday afternoon, Clinton would not answer whether she would support the actual bill.

"I'm not going to speculate what I'll be voting on in the future," she told reporters, according to the New York Times. That quote was picked up and circulated by aides to Clinton's Democratic opponents, including Sen. Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, who earlier this week ran television ads in New Hampshire and Iowa prodding Clinton and Obama to support cutting off funding for the war.

"We're as confused as anyone on Sen. Clinton's position, and frankly it's hard to know whether it's indecision, miscommunication, or simple word games and political gamesmanship we're dealing with," said Dodd spokeswoman Christy Setzer. "Our troops in Iraq don't have time for poll-tested word games."

Knowing they had to try to quash a potential controversy, Clinton's aides made her available to reporters to try to explain she was "misunderstood," and clarify that she would have voted for the bill to cut off funding, if she had the chance.

"I support the underlying bill," Clinton said, "I mean, that's what this vote on cloture was all about."

Clinton's position on the war was already fodder for her opponents in a Democratic contest where opposition to the war is crucial. The New York senator refuses to say she regrets her 2002 vote to authorize the war, and has been looking for other ways to speak out against the war. Two weeks ago, Clinton backed a measure to revoke the president's authorization for war.

"What we're doing is trying to convey as strongly as we can the feelings that many of us have about the need to change course -- some take a different course than others and to send a message to the Iraqis. I think we're doing that, slowly but surely," said Clinton.

-- CNN's Ted Barrett and Dana Bash

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