Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would be "a big mistake."
The New York Democrat said she respects Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa., the Vietnam veteran and hawkish ex-Marine who last week called for an immediate troop pullout. But she added: "I think that would cause more problems for us in America."
"It will matter to us if Iraq totally collapses into civil war, if it becomes a failed state the way Afghanistan was, where terrorists are free to basically set up camp and launch attacks against us," she said.
At the same time, Clinton said the Bush administration's pledge to stay in Iraq "until the job is done" amounts to giving the Iraqis "an open-ended invitation not to take care of themselves."
Clinton, who is running for re-election to the Senate and is seen as a likely presidential candidate in 2008, suggested that the United States wait for Iraq's Dec. 15 elections for an indication about how soon the Iraqis can take over.
"Until they vote for a government, I don't know that we will have adequate information about how prepared they are," she said.
She blamed the problems facing the United States in Iraq on "poor decision-making by the administration," but added: "My view is we have to work together to fix these problems."