Clinton says she'll begin Iraq pullout within 60 days
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) said Monday on Meet the Press she'd begin withdrawing troops from Iraq within 60 days, if elected.
"I have said that as soon as I become President, I will ask the Joint Chiefs, secretary of defense, my security advisers to give me a plan to begin withdrawing our troops within 60 days," she told Meet the Press host Tim Russert.
According to a Real Clear Politics average of South Carolina polling, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) leads the New York senator by 13 points. The press has regularly harped on the fact that Clinton voted to authorize President Bush to begin conflict operations in Iraq, which Obama did not.
"Starting on day one of my presidency, we will begin that planning. We will begin to withdraw our troops within 60 days," Clinton added. "I think we can take out one to two brigades a month. At the same time, I will put increasing pressure on the Iraqi government. I will engage in a full diplomatic effort to work with the countries in the region and others who have an interest in the stability of Iraq... As of January 20, 2009, we will begin to bring our troops out of Iraq. Therefore, I certainly believe itís in the interests of the Iraqi government and the people of Iraq that a lot of this reconciliation that Iíve been calling for going back four or five years start and actually get implemented now."
Clinton ruled out any further support for Bush's "surge."
"The surge was certainly explained and rationalized as giving the Iraqi government space and time to make the hard decisions that they needed to make," she remarked. "2007 was the deadliest year for American troops."
"From my perspective, part of the reason the Iraqis are doing anything is because they see this election happening and they know they donít have much time, that the blank check that George Bush gave them is about to be torn up," she added.