Clinton: 'Bring Our Troops Home'
Posted April 24, 2008 7:36 a.m. EDT
Updated April 25, 2008 5:52 a.m. EDT
Fayetteville, N.C. — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said the way to restore the United States' moral authority is by ending the war in Iraq as responsibly and quickly as possible.
Clinton, speaking Thursday afternoon on the campus of Methodist University, said soldiers have done a “magnificent job, serving with honor and heroism” and giving the Iraqi people freedom.
“Now it is up to the Iraqis to make the decision that only they can make for themselves, and it is time for us to bring our troops home,” she said.
After soldiers get home, Clinton said, it is important to make sure they are not neglected. She stressed the need for guaranteed funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs and the end of red tape that keeps veterans from getting treatment. The Department of Defense and VA could combine staff to make sure another military person does not get lost in the system, she said.
Clinton expressed support for the Helmets to Hardhats program, which helps veterans transition to civilian jobs. Those jobs could come from the creation of clean, renewable, alternative energy jobs, she said.
Clinton also proposed a "one-to-one" program that would give soldiers one month home for every month they have spent away. She also set a goal of ending the process of stop-loss, a program that extends the time military personnel must serve after their contractual obligations end.
The military-heavy event at the March Riddle Center was not surprising in a state where more than 102,000 troops are stationed.
Eight retired admirals and generals, including Gen. Hugh Shelton, the retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former Fort Bragg commander, joined Clinton on stage.
Shelton said Clinton was the “only candidate that has expressed a responsible plan for bringing our troops home with honor.”
As for a possible debate in the Tar Heel state, Clinton said she hopes one could still happen before the May 6 primary.
“I have said, 'I’ll debate anytime, anywhere.' Look, I am so sleep-deprived, it doesn’t matter,” Clinton joked. “I hope we will, because I think you deserve your own debate.”
A caravan of North Carolina veterans will be traveling the state on her behalf this week, with stops at American Legion and VFW halls, to hold meetings on issues that are important to veterans in the country, Clinton said.
Clinton returned to North Carolina two days after her win in the Pennsylvania primary.
She was also scheduled to visit Asheville on Thursday. On Friday, she is scheduled to speak at 8:30 a.m. at Jacksonville Fire Department Station 4, at 100 Firehouse Lane. Clinton is scheduled to attend a rally with her daughter in Charlotte on Monday.
Clinton is ramping up her campaign ahead of the state's primary, when 115 delegates will be at stake. Chelsea Clinton stumped for her mother at Duke University in Durham on Tuesday, and former President Bill Clinton made a five-city campaign swing through North Carolina on Wednesday.