Video: Hillary Clinton and the Iraq factor

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updated 1/24/2007 10:06:14 PM ET 2007-01-25T03:06:14

“Troubled. Anxious. Insecure. Disheartened.”

That is the state of the union, according to Sen. Hillary Clinton.

“The American Dream needs to be renewed,” Clinton told Countdown host Keith Olbermann during an interview in which she discussed the president’s upcoming address, her bid to replace him as the first Democratic president since her husband and the possible “ambassador” role Bill Clinton might play in her administration.

“We have got to get back to the American Promise that I was raised with, and give it back to people, so that they can make a better life for themselves and their children.”

Clinton, D-N.Y., criticized Bush’s health care, economic and environmental policies but when asked about what would make her stand up and cheer during tonight’s speech, a reversal of his Iraq policy topped her list.

“It would be great if he said, ‘You know, I have changed my mind about the escalation of troops going to Iraq,’” she said.

“There is no military solution. There are political resolutions that could be reached through the hard, slow, frustrating work of diplomacy.”

Clinton took responsibility for voting for the war in 2002, saying “there’ve been a lot of mistakes made by everybody, including those of us in the Congress but placed the responsibility for the current state of Iraq firmly on the Bush administration.

“Nobody is more heartsick about the policy in Iraq than I am,” she said. “I am just devastated at the incompetence and arrogance of the administration in pursuing this policy based on the authority that I and others granted the president.”

Rather than send 21,500 more troops to the region, Clinton said the current problems in Iraq need to be solved through “diplomatic and political engagement” with all parties in Iraq, as well as with other countries including Iran and Syria.

“I don’t see it as a sign of weakness; I see it as a sign of strength,” Clinton said. “You have got to deal with your enemies, your opponents, people whose interests diverge from yours.”

The president’s State of the Union address will touch on Iraq, but the greater emphasis will be on global terror and four key domestic issues — energy, education immigration and health care.

“Anything that moves us closer toward universal coverage is something that I’m going to look at seriously,” said Clinton, who headed an unsuccessful initiative to create a national health insurance program during her first term as first lady.

Both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue
The first former first lady to run for president said it is her unique experience in both the White House and the United State’s Senate that qualifies her for the nation’s highest office.

“Having seen what happened in the White House when you face difficult decisions, understanding how to structure it, how to work with Congress, how to take your message not only to our country, but to the world and now, having been in the Senate and having been reelected based on my record in the Senate, I feel confident that I would be able to work with Congress.”

Her experience on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue would bring a new kind of bipartisanship to the government, she said.

“I think his (Bush’s) idea of bipartisanship and mine are pretty different. I mean, his idea is, I’m going to tell what to do, come join me. That is not the way the political process does work or should work.”

Despite her disapproval of Bush’s idea of bipartisanship, Clinton said she hoped the president would “genuinely reach out to the new Democratic majority” tonight.

President Hillary? Ambassador Bill?
Clinton said her return to the White House would be a return to the “progress of the past.”

“I was very, very proud of the record that the president (Bill Clinton) left at the end of two terms, and then I saw this president come in and basically undo everything that had been done, whether it was good for this president or not.”

The only time Clinton expressed approval of President Bush was for his decision to enlist the help of her husband and George H. Bush during the tsunami and Katrina disasters

“I think it is smart to use former presidents,” she said, adding it is one Bush policy she may continue.

“Someone like my husband would be a tremendous ambassador for our country.”

Clinton will join Olbermann and Hardball host Chris Matthews on MSNBC after the State of the Union.

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