2016 repercussions? Hillary Clinton backs Obama on Syria action

WASHINGTON Mon Sep 9, 2013 6:43pm EDT

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks about Syria during an event at the White House in Washington, September 9, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks about Syria during an event at the White House in Washington, September 9, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - "Before I get to the subject at hand, I'd like to say a few words about Syria."

With that preface, Hillary Clinton turned a routine White House event about the perils of wildlife trafficking into a platform to voice her views about U.S. military action against Syria.

She also delivered a message from President Barack Obama that a new Russian proposal to put Syria's chemical weapons under international control "would be an important step."

The former secretary of state's position on Syria, backing Obama, was not unexpected.

But the fact that she was able to command attention on Monday was a sign of her continuing strength as a drawing card and as a potential 2016 presidential candidate.

Clinton urged Congress to support Obama as it considers whether to approve a military response against forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after an August 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria.

"The Assad regime's inhumane use of weapons of mass destruction against innocent men, women and children violates a universal norm at the heart of our global order, and therefore it demands a strong response from the international community led by the United States," Clinton said.

Clinton has been arguing for action against Syria behind the scenes as well. In recent days, for example, she called Arkansas Democratic Senator Mark Pryor, who has opposed action, and New York Senator Chuck Schumer, a supporter of Obama's request.

She met with Obama before Monday's remarks and has had several conversations with White House chief of staff Denis McDonough.

While saying it would be an important step if Syria were to surrender its chemical weapons stockpiles as suggested by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia, she said the move "cannot be another excuse for delay or obstruction" by Syria.

Clinton is the most closely watched Democrat likely to join the race to succeed Obama in 2016. Only Vice President Joe Biden generates anything close to the type of buzz that accompanies every move Clinton makes.

Many Democrats in Congress are skeptical of Obama's proposal to launch a military strike against Assad for a chemical weapons attack that U.S. officials say killed 1,429 people.

Bob Shrum, a Democratic strategist who was John Kerry's campaign manager when he ran for president in 2004, said Clinton has little choice but to support Obama's Syria policy, since she was tough on Syria as secretary of state.

"Anything else would be foolish on her part," she said. "It would look inconsistent. She's been for taking tough action on Syria for a long time."

A risk for Clinton would be if the United States launched military action against Syria and becomes ensnared in war there despite Obama's promises for a limited engagement should use of force be deemed necessary.

(Additional reporting by Thomas Ferraro, Roberta Rampton and Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Jim Loney)

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Comments (6)
Overcast451 wrote:
Shouldn’t the good of the nation be the concern – and not the next election?

Oh wait, I thought we had an upstanding government – what world was I in?

Sep 09, 2013 7:41pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
cfulbright wrote:
And this is what she said in Oct. 2002:

“In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security.”

Sep 09, 2013 7:45pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
BUCKEYEGAL wrote:
If the USA is stupid enough to elect Hillary (she will run), we deserve what we get. More of the same shuck and jive as Obama, cover ups etc. Plus, Bill Clinton will be pulling strings too and advising Hillary on her every move. I was for her, until the Bengazi cover up-”Hillary quote..What difference does it make?”). zi’ve had enough of the entire bunch and seems like Obama is losing a lot of support. A community activist who is a great speaker, does not a President make.

Sep 09, 2013 7:51pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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