WASHINGTON – Trying to win over her party's liberal activists, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday accused President Bush of disregarding the Constitution and promised to bring a new progressive vision to the White House.
Bush's government has "a stunning record of secrecy and corruption, of cronyism run amok," she said in one of the more partisan speeches of her campaign. "It is everything our founders were afraid of, everything our Constitution was designed to prevent."
Clinton returned to the Take Back America conference where she was booed last year for opposing a set date for pulling U.S. troops from Iraq. This time, she said she is working to deauthorize the war.
Her comments on Iraq at the end of her 30-minute speech drew heckles, but she also won applause for promising to get out of Iraq and for embracing liberal positions on domestic issues such as health care, worker rights, education and stem cell research.
Bush was scheduled to veto a bill later in the day that would have eased restraints on federally funded embryonic stem cell research. Clinton promised to lift the ban if elected.
"This is just one example of how the president puts ideology before science, politics before the needs of our families, just one more example of how out of touch with reality he and his party have become," she said. "And it's just one more example as to why we're going to send them packing in January 2009 and return progressive leadership to the White House.
One audience member yelled, "Impeach him!"
On Iraq, Clinton said the military has succeed by removing Saddam Hussein from power, giving Iraqis the chance for free and fair elections and to govern themselves.
"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," Clinton said, although a loud chorus of boos cut off the end of her sentence.
"I love coming here," Clinton said with a smile while the crowd continued to boo, with her supporters trying to drown the protesters out in cheers.
Members of the anti-war group Code Pink stood up throughout the audience, raising signs and holding up their fingers in a peace sign.
"I see the signs — 'Get us out of Iraq now.' That is what we are trying to do," she said. She said she is working with Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., to sponsor legislation to deauthorize the war.
One of the protesters was Laurie Meier of St. Louis, who was wearing a police-style cap and shirt that said "Pink Police" on the back. She said Clinton is responsible for her vote to authorize the war and for repeatedly voting to fund it, until the most recent spending bill that she voted against.
"To blame it on the Iraqis is a cop out," Meier said.
Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, another presidential candidate, also spoke Wednesday. He said Vice President Dick Cheney should be impeached and won enthusiastic applause from the audience.