She went on to say that now that a new, permanent Iraqi government is taking shape, the United States must "make it very clear that the Iraqis are responsible for their own security, the Iraqis are responsible for ending the sectarian violence, the Iraqis are responsible for making sure the electricity is on, and we have to make that very very clear.
" ... We are getting to a point where we will be able to deal with an Iraqi government and I think at that point we have to make it absolutely clear to them that the United States has sacrificed a great deal for this moment for the Iraqis to have a government of their own choosing, elected in a free election, that must recognize the differences among the people of Iraq and work to create a unified Iraq, and once we get to that point then I think we can make other decisions, but I don't think we're there quite yet, but we should be there soon," she said in a thinly veiled reference to withdrawing troops.
Unlike Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards -- two potential rivals for the Democratic nomination in 2008 -- Clinton has never expressed regret for her vote or stated that her vote was a mistake. Her refusal to do so could drive some liberals (who make up a significant portion of the Democratic primary electorate) away from her candidacy, should she decide to seek her party's nomination.
"She is the prohibitive front-runner for a whole host of reasons," said Democratic strategist Steve Elmendorf who served as a deputy campaign manager on Kerry's presidential campaign. However, he cautioned that Iraq could be a stumbling block in the 2008 nomination process.
"I think the Democratic Party in general in 2008 faces this problem, which I think will get resolved in the primary ... It's a significant division of opinion within the party," he said.