WASHINGTON – The United States should cap the number of troops in Iraq, while increasing American forces in Afghanistan, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday.
Clinton, the expected front-runner for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, was quick to seize the spotlight the day after Illinois Sen. Barack Obama took a major step toward entering the race.
Appearing on network television and radio shows to discuss her recent trip to Iraq, the New York senator said she opposes President Bush's plan to increase U.S. troops in Iraq and favors redeploying troops out of Baghdad and eventually Iraq. She said she also favors conditioning economic aid to the Iraqi government's progress in meeting certain political goals.
"The Bush administration has frankly failed to put any leverage on this government," Clinton told CBS "The Early Show." But she sidestepped questions on whether she would vote to block funding for Bush's troop increase.
On Afghanistan, Clinton called the conflict there "one of the great missed opportunities," urging an increase in U.S. troops before a likely "spring offensive" by the Taliban.
Clinton deflected questions on the presidential qualifications of Obama, who has emerged as her chief competitor for the nomination.
"We're going to have a really vigorous debate on both sides, in both parties," Clinton told NBC's "Today Show." "The voters will make that decision."
On when she will announce her own candidacy, Clinton was also vague: "I'm not influenced by anybody else's timeline. I'm trying to pursue my own assessment and analysis."