Clinton Sticking to Iraq Plan, No Matter What

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is sticking to her plan to withdraw troops from Iraq, no matter what.

In a testy exchange with a reporter on a conference call Monday, after Clinton delivered a speech about Iraq, top Clinton advisors went to pains to make plain that there would be no room for adjustment in Clinton's Iraq plans, no matter what happens on the ground.

At one point her communications director boiled it down to a one-word answer. Would she stand by her plan? Yes.

"Senator Clinton has been very, very clear about what her plan is and one of her points in giving the speech is that you can count on her to implement this plan," Clinton foreign policy adviser Lee Feinstein said.


"In the world there are contingencies, but it is a very different matter when you enter office, not intending to implement the plan you have put out on the campaign trail," he said.

"You've now just used this term 'contingencies'," replied Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs. "I mean that is, you're basically telling us that the plan might change? Is that not correct?"

"No, we're not saying that. What we're saying is that Hillary is committed to her plan. She has laid out her plan in detail. She was the first candidate in this race, in this primary, to lay out her detailed plans of what she would do as president to start bringing our troops home. She's committed to those plans," Clinton policy director Neera Tanden replied.


The Post reporter pressed again on whether it would be fair to assume that Clinton might need the opportunity to adjust her plan, in the way that former Obama adviser Samantha Power suggested Senator Barack Obama, D-Ill., might adjust his plan for a 16-month withdrawal.

In an interview with the BBC earlier this month, Power said: "You can't make a commitment in whatever month we're in now, in March of 2008 about what circumstances are gonna be like in January 2009. We can't even tell what Bush is up to in terms of troop pauses and so forth. He will of course not rely upon some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or as a US senator. He will rely upon a plan, an operational plan that he pulls together, in consultation with people who are on the ground, to whom he doesn't have daily access now as a result of not being the president."

Referring to Clinton's plan to withdraw one to two combat brigades per month, Dobbs then asked directly: "She is going to stick to this plan, whatever the realities on the ground?"

"She has said that this is her plan. She has said what her goals are and those are the direction," Feinstein said.

"The answer is yes!" Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson jumped in.

"My question is … whether this is her plan and she is going to stick to it regardless?" Dobbs asked again.

"You're asking a question. I'm giving you a one-word answer so we can be clear about it. The answer is 'Yes'," Wolfson said.

"Hillary has addressed this issue numerous times!" an exasperated Tanden added. "She has done interviews on this issue. She has, uh, been confronted with this specific question and has said that she will be bringing our troops home when she becomes president."

"I want to be clear about Samantha Power for a moment," Wolfson said, referring to Obama's former senior foreign policy adviser who resigned from the campaign after calling Clinton "a monster." In a March 6 interview with the BBC, Power said that Obama's plan to get combat troops out of Iraq in 16 months was a "best-case scenario."

"The issue with Samantha Power is frankly not what she said, but the fact that what she said contradicted what her candidate was saying," Wolfson said.

"Now, her candidate was telling voters, explicitly, unequivocally, that he was going to bring the troops home within 16 months, and he was attacking Senator Clinton for not agreeing with him on that subject," he said.

"So, the issue here is not what Samantha Power said, but it's the fact that she contradicted her candidate in a way that suggests that when her candidate was saying something to the American people and was attacking Senator Clinton — for not holding the position that he had — he didn't really mean it. That's the point about Samantha Power."

ABC News' Talal Alkhatib and Mike Elmore contributed to this report.