Pelosi: Iraq vote shouldn't affect Hillary's 2016 bid

Pelosi: Iraq vote shouldn't affect Hillary's 2016 bid
© Greg Nash

Former Sen. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHow Democrats can defy the odds in 2022 Close the avenues of foreign meddling Pelosi planned on retiring until Trump won election: report MORE's (D-N.Y.) vote in favor of the Iraq War should have no bearing on her current bid for the White House, House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiAgainst mounting odds, Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan Charles Booker launches exploratory committee to consider challenge to Rand Paul Top academics slam Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act MORE (D-Calif.) said Thursday.

Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (R.I.), a Republican-turned-Independent, who's eying a presidential run as a Democrat, has said Clinton's 2002 vote backing the war makes her unfit for the job.

But Pelosi, who rose in the Democratic ranks largely on her full-throated opposition to the Iraq War, said that, while she disagreed with Clinton's vote, it should not disqualify her for the position.


"This was wrong all around … [but] that was then this is now, [and] we go forward," Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. "And I do not think that the vote that Hillary Clinton took on that [should disqualify her] – nor did I think the vote that John Kerry took on it, disqualified him from being a candidate for president."

In an interview last week with MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell, Chafee said Clinton's vote paved the way for the chaos that plagues the Middle East today, including the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). He said the vote raises enough concerns about Clinton's judgment that she — like Kerry, who failed in his 2004 White House bid — is the wrong choice for president.

"It's relevant to what we read about every day in the papers in the Middle East and other areas of the world," said Chafee, who was the only Senate Republican to oppose the Iraq War in 2002. "Even though it's a long time ago, back in 2002, the ramifications are still felt today."

On that issue, Chafee and Pelosi agree.

"The consequences have been terrible," Pelosi said.

As senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee at the time, Pelosi had access to classified information that most of her colleagues did not. Still, she has long claimed the intelligence on Iraq did not support the threat claimed by the Bush administration, and it was a message most House Democrats heeded by opposing the war.

"My members had confidence in me, and on the strength of that, many of them voted against the war … [and] they did thank me afterward," she said. "I don't know what was going on in the Senate. I can't answer for that."

Pelosi also emphasized that votes of war are votes of conscience that every lawmaker approaches from a different perspective.

"I disagreed with that vote, but a war vote is a vote that everybody makes on the basis of what they know, what they believe, who they trust," she said.

"But, no, the answer is no. I don't think it should disqualify her," she added, referring to Clinton's yes vote.

"Elections are about the future. They're not about what happened 13 years ago."