Clinton Criticizes Bush on War Strategy

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton accused President Bush of mismanaging the Iraq war and claimed his domestic agenda has taken the country off course in a speech Friday night to Democrats in a state that solidly backed the Republican president last year.

About 2,000 people cheered the New York senator as she accused Bush of ignoring an ailing health care system and rewarding tax cuts to the wealthy while piling up deficits.

Clinton headlined a party fundraiser that brought in $600,000 for Kentucky candidates as Democrats try to reverse gains by Republicans, who hold the governor's mansion and all but one of the state's congressional seats.

Clinton, who is running for re-election next year and is considered a possible presidential candidate in 2008, targeted the president's handling of the war for some of her sharpest criticism.

"The time has come for the administration to stop serving up platitudes and present a plan for finishing this war with success and honor," she said. "I reject a rigid timetable that the terrorists can exploit, and I reject an open timetable that has no ending attached to it.

"Instead, I think we need a plan for winning and concluding this war, and the president can begin by taking responsibilities for the false assurances, faulty evidence and mismanagement of this war."

She also called on Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney "to stop impugning the patriotism of their critics."

The former first lady received several standing ovations from the party stalwarts.

From a distance, Republicans seemed as gleeful about Clinton's visit, and were eager to lump Kentucky Democrats in with the New York senator.

As first lady, Clinton sometimes evoked strong emotions in the Bluegrass State. In 1994, a gathering of tobacco supporters in western Kentucky burned an effigy of Clinton to protest what they saw as anti-tobacco policies during her husband's administration. Her husband still carried the state in both his presidential victories.

"Our Kentucky voters simply can't identify with a liberal New York senator," said state Republican Chairman Darrell Brock. "She's for bigger government, higher taxes, more regulation — just the things that we just don't stand for."