In advance of the first Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is promoting his opposition to the Iraq War. That’s hardly surprising: His congressional vote against the 2002 resolution authorizing the invasion is appealing to anti-war Democratic primary voters and is a clear contrast with Hillary Clinton, who voted for the resolution. More surprising is the Republican National Committee also now spotlighting Clinton’s vote for the same GOP-backed resolution -- and criticizing her for it.
In a fact sheet blasted out over the weekend, the RNC declared that “Clinton has always been wrong on Iraq.” As alleged proof of that, the RNC cites as its first example Clinton’s vote for the resolution authorizing an invasion of Iraq. “Clinton voted to authorize the war in Iraq, which was devastating to her 2008 presidential bid,” the memo said.
The RNC’s new criticism of legislators for voting for the resolution puts the group at odds with almost all of the Republican Party’s elected officials at the time of the Iraq War. Indeed, the resolution the RNC is now attacking Clinton for supporting was sought by Republican President George W. Bush, and was backed by the vast majority of Republicans in Congress.
The RNC’s criticism of Clinton for backing the war also conflicts with its own messages. During Bush’s presidency, the RNC aired ads accusing Democrats of not being sufficiently supportive of the war. Bush remains a popular figure among GOP primary voters. A New York Times/CBS News poll published in May found that 71 percent of Republicans viewed Bush favorably.