Hillary Clinton said she supports President Obama’s decision to delay withdrawing troops from Afghanistan —the latest example of Clinton embracing the president’s legacy as she campaigns to replace him.
“I think what you’re seeing with President Obama is a perfect example of a leader who has strong convictions about what he would like to see happen but also pays attention to what’s going on in the real world,” Clinton told CNN Friday evening. “And his decision is one that I agree with.”
Asked whether she would pledge to pull out troops by the end of her first or second term, Clinton declined to tie her hands if she takes office.
“I will not sit here today and say what I would do upon taking office because, again, we want to bring our troops home,” she said. “We certainly don’t want them engaged in on-the-ground combat. We want them to help support and train the Afghan army. And we want them to, you know, continue to work with the government of Afghanistan to try to help strengthen security for them. So, I can’t predict where things will be in January of 2017.”
Obama said last year that he’d pull all ground troops out of the war-torn country by the time he leaves office. But this week he acknowledged that the plan wasn’t realistic given the ongoing instability there.
Clinton has lately appeared eager to align herself with Obama, in whose administration she served for four years as secretary of state. Asked in Tuesday’s debate how a Clinton presidency would not represent a third Obama term, she at first pointed to her gender. Pressed to name policy differences, she said she’d seek to “build on the successes of President Obama, but also, as I’m laying out, to go beyond.”
The strategy makes sense. Despite middling poll numbers overall, Obama remains very popular with the Democratic base voters, especially African-Americans, whose support Clinton needs as she campaigns for her party’s nomination.