House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vote to go to war in Iraq should not disqualify her from running for president, as former Rhode Island Gov. and U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee has said.
“I don’t know what was going on in the Senate — I can’t answer for that,” Mrs. Pelosi said at her weekly news conference, pointing out her own opposition to the war. “But I can say that a message was given to the American people by the White House that was not true, misrepresented the concern that was out there and created an atmosphere where unless you really studied this carefully — and I’m not saying that everybody had access to that material because they didn’t, I was in a special place.”
“This was wrong all around,” said Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat. “Having said it, that was then, this is now. We go forward. And I do not think that the vote that Hillary Clinton took on that, nor did I think the vote that John Kerry took on it disqualified him from being a candidate for president.”
Mrs. Pelosi was answering a question about comments made by Mr. Chafee, who is exploring a presidential bid of his own on the Democratic side and has hammered Mrs. Clinton for her Iraq vote.
Speaking on CNN Thursday, Mr. Chafee, who has formed an exploratory committee ahead of a possible bid, hinted that he was indeed running for president in 2016 before a spokeswoman walked things back.
The Iraq war played a huge role in the 2008 Democratic nominating contest between Mrs. Clinton and President Obama, then both U.S. senators. Mrs. Clinton later wrote in her recent book, “Hard Choices,” that she got the vote wrong.
Mrs. Pelosi said Mrs. Clinton will be among the “best prepared” people to serve as president.
“I disagree 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, and there are a large number of people in both parties who supported the war unfortunately because the consequences have been terrible in terms of what it meant to our veterans and the rest of that,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “But no — the answer is no, I don’t think it should disqualify her.”
“Elections are about the future — they’re not about what happened 13 years ago,” she said.
• David Sherfinski can be reached at email@example.com.
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