The mismanagement of the Iraq War and Sen. Hillary Clinton’s preparedness to be Commander in Chief were the focus of an informal discussion lead by Major General Paul Eaton Wednesday at Clinton’s Missoula campaign headquarters.
Eaton, touring Montana on Clinton’s behalf, was the Commanding General of the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team in Iraq, where he was charged with training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004. He said the current administration has waged the war incompetently, citing the lack of diplomacy in the Middle East and the lack of support for American soldiers and veterans.
“We’ve got to get a competent leader into the White House,” Eaton said. “Hillary Clinton is hands down electable because she is smart and she is tough.”
Eaton said he thinks Clinton is a stronger candidate than Sen. Barack Obama because she has carried important swing states like Pennsylvania, Florida, Kentucky and Ohio. Appealing to the blue-collar demographic in these states is vital for winning the general election, he says.
City Councilman Jon Wilkins, who attended the discussion, also said he believes Clinton is more electable.
“She has more experience really,” Wilkins said. “I get along with the Republicans on City Council and they are telling me that they’ll vote for Obama in our primary because they don’t think he’s electable either and that way McCain will win.”
Other people who attended the discussion felt differently, however. Jeff Renz, a professor of law at the University of Montana, said the discussion was interesting, but he disagrees with the statement that Clinton is more electable than Obama.
“[Obama] is pulling out people who haven’t voted before in numbers that haven’t been seen before,” Renz said.
Regardless of which candidate is more “electable,” one thing is certain — the looming Montana Democratic Primary is crucial to both campaigns.
“One of the good things about this very unusual election is that every states is, and has been, important. South Dakota and Montana, among the last to participate, for so long have been neglected…but now every American will have a voice,” Eaton said.
After the discussion, Eaton went on to visit with Missoula veterans and has stops in Helena and Great Falls planned for Thursday.