David Axelrod swipes at Hillary Clinton over Iraq
By: Maggie Haberman
August 12, 2014 10:39 AM EDT
David Axelrod, the longtime top adviser to President Barack Obama, has taken to Twitter to slam Hillary Clinton in the wake of her comments rejecting the core of the Obama administration’s self-described foreign policy principle.
In an interview with The Atlantic, Clinton said the White House doctrine of “Don’t do stupid stuff” is “not an organizing principle.”
“Just to clarify: ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ means stuff like occupying Iraq in the first place, which was a tragically bad decision,” read the tweet from Axelrod. He declined to expound on the tweet when reached via email by POLITICO.
As a senator during the presidency of George W. Bush, Clinton voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq, a vote that played a major role in costing her the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.
Although Clinton has always been more hawkish than Obama, her comments to The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg were widely taken as an attempted calibration away from the increasingly unpopular president as she ponders a second White House run.
Axelrod’s astonishing public swipe at Clinton revealed the extent to which Obama allies are furious over her interview, in which the former secretary of state also allied herself tightly with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and called Obama’s decision to not assist Syrian rebels early on a “failure.”
Several sources close to the White House described Obama aides as angered by Clinton’s critiques. Her team had warned them the interview was coming, but it also landed as the president is grappling with a string of global crises.
The Axelrod tweet took what had been a simmering rift and blew it open. Between that and Clinton’s comments, the sense of unity that her team had tried to establish with the White House has broken down.
Clinton aides would not immediately respond to emails for comment Tuesday.
Axelrod has a long history with Clinton. He worked on the coordinated campaign for her 2000 U.S. Senate race from New York, and he and his wife have worked with her for their charity focused on curing epilepsy, an illness afflicting one of their children.
But Axelrod was one of the main architects of Obama’s rise in 2008, when he saw the ability to tap into anti-establishment sentiment.
Obama was a major critic of the war in Iraq during that 2008 campaign, a message that helped lift his candidacy over Clinton in the Democratic primary. In her book “Hard Choices,” Clinton finally wrote that she was “wrong” for her earlier Iraq vote, but she has said very little about the process of arriving at that conclusion.
During the 2008 race, Clinton famously aired an ad questioning whether Obama was ready for a “3 a.m.” phone call, a spot some denounced as overly belligerent.
Yet Clinton supporters believe her view has been validated, if not about Obama, then about America’s approach to the world. Clinton took pains to praise Obama in her interview with Goldberg, but her comments, and Axelrod’s tweet, reflect the extent to which 2008 remains a sore point.
And it was the timing of her remarks, as much as their substance, that has offended Obama allies.