U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter accused Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of lacking "spine" on Iraq on Tuesday, three days after the New York Democrat launched her bid for the White House.
"Anyone who has watched her remarkable trajectory can have no doubt that she'll do whatever it takes to win the presidency. I wish she felt the same way about the war," Liz Cheney, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, said in an opinion article in The Washington Post.
Cheney took aim at both Republican and Democratic opponents of the war, warning that retreating from Iraq would hurt the United States in the broader war against terrorism and that any restrictions on the U.S. troop presence would aid terrorists.
But Cheney's attack on Clinton was particularly pointed, especially for such an early stage in the 2008 presidential campaign.
"I suppose Hillary Clinton's announcement was a sign of progress. In 2007, a woman can run for president and show the same level of courage and conviction about this war of her male colleagues have," Cheney wrote. "Steel in the spine? Not so much."
Clinton, who aims to become the first woman elected U.S. president, dismissed Cheney's criticisms during an interview on CNN.
"They've been dead wrong. They've been wrong for the last years. They've been wrong on the war. They've been wrong in the way they've alienated the rest of the world," Clinton said.
"I think there's a better way and I'm against this escalation because, frankly, I think it's more of the same. ... We need a change of direction. That's what I'm advocating, Clinton said.
Clinton, who voted to back the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, recently said she would introduce legislation capping the number of U.S. troops in that country. The cap would hold troop levels at about 134,000, the number that existed before President George W. Bush announced his plan to add 21,500 more.
"In fairness, Clinton, with her proposal for arbitrary caps on troop levels and hemming and hawing about her vote for the war resolution, has company on both sides of the aisle," Cheney wrote.
"Let's be clear: If we restrict the ability of our troops to fight and win this war, we help the terrorists," she wrote.
Those who advocate troop withdrawal or redeployment, including potential Republican presidential candidate Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, were "heading for the hills," Cheney wrote.