After being needled by Bernie Sanders over her 2002 vote in favor of war with Iraq, Hillary Clinton pointed to her work as secretary of State to argue that she has a far broader range of foreign policy experiences that show how she would lead if elected president.
“I have a much longer history than one vote,” Clinton said during a Democratic candidates’ town hall at Drake University here.
Among the examples Clinton cited was helping to create the coalition that imposed sanctions on Iran that eventually led to last year’s landmark nuclear deal.
“It’s imperative you do your very best … to avoid military action,” Clinton said in response to a question posed by an audience member. “It should be the last resort, not the first choice.”
She said the U.S. must pursue diplomacy, “even if it’s slow, boring, hard, to continue to persist and be patient to get results.”
Clinton noted that when she became the nation’s top diplomat, the Iranians were on a path to developing nuclear weapons. Many allies “just wanted to end that program by bombing them,” she said.
“We got the negotiation successfully done,” she said.
“So we have to be leading, that means we’ve got to be smart about how we try to assert our power so it is constructive, makes a difference and does lead to greater peace and prosperity,” Clinton said.
The three Democratic presidential candidates appeared individually onstage for about half an hour each. Sanders spoke first and hammered Clinton’s vote for war as a key difference in their records. Clinton has acknowledged that her vote was a mistake.