June 20, 2007 — -- Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton was booed this morning by some attendees at the liberal Take Back America conference for blaming failure in Iraq on the Iraqi government.
"The American military has succeeded. It is the Iraqi government, which has failed to make the tough decisions that are important for their own people," the New York senator said from the podium, earning jeers from some members of the audience.
"I love coming here every year," said Clinton. "I see the signs," she added, referring to the "Lead Us Out of Iraq" signs which were being held up by members of the antiwar group Code Pink.
Clinton sought to appease the members of the audience who were dissatisfied with her Iraq comments by pointing to her work with Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., to make Oct. 11, 2007, an expiration date for the Iraq war authorization. Congress authorized the use of force in Iraq in 2002 with Clinton's support.
"The point of our proposal is very simple," said Clinton, "to end the president's authority on the war and to force him to seek new authority. He thinks he can get any kind of authority through the Congress. I think that he is mistaken." She said the purpose of the measure was to "strip" President Bush's war effort of "legitimacy."
Jodie Evans, Code Pink's co-founder, told ABC News that she was outraged by what she saw as Clinton's finger-pointing.
"She doesn't understand that what we've done to Iraq is what we've done to Iraq and Iraq is not liable for it or responsible in any way," said Evans. "She has a long way to go to gain our trust, a very long way to go."
Dana Eller, another conference attendee, was generally pleased by Clinton's presentation, but remains disappointed that Clinton has not referred to her 2002 war vote as a mistake.
"She hasn't actually come out and said 'I was wrong.'" Eller remarked. "I need that, and without that I will not give her my support."
The Take Back America conference is the same gathering of progressive activists who booed Clinton's Iraq position in 2006. Last year, she was heckled for speaking out against a "date certain" for troop withdrawal.
Since then she has come out in favor of a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops, going as far as voting against a war funding bill last month. That bill did not include such a timetable.
Clinton was heckled by some, but not all, at the conference. Many in attendance cheered her hard-hitting speech, which set forth what she called a "new progressive vision for the 21st century." The speech touched on a range of issues including stem cell research, equal pay, income inequality, universal health care and making college more affordable.
One Iraq policy topic that Clinton did not broach in front of the audience of progressive activists was the four-pronged continuing mission that she sees for U.S. forces in Iraq even after the timetable for the withdrawal of combat troops has come and gone.
While participating in a Tuesday forum sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Clinton reiterated her support for leaving troops in Iraq after the timetable for troop withdrawal. She said the troops will help prevent al Qaeda from gaining a staging ground, look after the treatment of the Kurds, guard against the influence of Iran and train Iraqi forces if the Iraqi government "gets its act together."
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., a top rival for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, also envisions residual forces left behind in Iraq. But, it was Clinton's support for an ongoing mission in Iraq that drew fire at Tuesday's conference from New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, another Democrat vying for the 2008 presidential nomination.
ABC News' Leigh Hartman contributed to this report.