Clinton refutes Gates on Iraq troop surge vote

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is pushing back on former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s assertion that her opposition to the 2007 Iraq troop surge was politically motivated.

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“I think he perhaps either missed the context or the meaning because I did oppose the surge,” Clinton told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in an interview that will air Monday night.

“The public had given up,” she added. “This is not politics in electoral, political terms. This is politics in the sense of the American public has to support commitments like this. I opposed the surge.” 

Gates wrote in his memoir that he witnessed a conversation in which Clinton, then secretary of State, told President Obama that she opposed the surge because she was facing him in the Iowa primary, a conversation Gates said he found “dismaying.”

During the Monday interview, when asked if Gates then “got it wrong,” Clinton said she had “no memory” of the conversation.

“I don't in any way doubt what he heard,” she said. “I'm just saying that there was a much broader context than that.”

She added, however, that Gates is “someone I admire and really appreciated serving with.”

During her 2008 run for president, Clinton faced heavy criticism from Democrats over her vote to authorize the war in Iraq in 2002. She said during the Monday night interview that she “absolutely” regrets the vote, and adds, “I think I should have said sooner and more plainly, more clearly I was wrong.”

“I based my confidence, my vote in the wrong place, and I deeply regret that,” she says. “I tried to evaluate and analyze all the different elements. I voted to give the president the authorization. I thought he would use it differently, nevertheless I did cast that vote.”