Hillary Clinton, sniper fire and Sinbad

In a speech, Hillary Clinton plays up her trip to Bosnia again.

By Mark Benjamin
Published March 17, 2008 3:10PM (EDT)

In her war to prove she is the one to take that 3 a.m. phone call, Hillary Clinton brought it up a notch this morning.

Now she's a combat veteran.

Clinton delivered a foreign policy speech at George Washington University this morning, mostly touting her ideas about conducting a "well-planned withdrawal" from Iraq if elected.

But Clinton and her national security surrogates also took the opportunity to try to remind us how much she is ready to be commander in chief, once again touting a dangerous 1996 trip to Bosnia.

Togo West, former secretary of the Army, introduced her this morning and claimed that Hillary was dispatched on the trip because the Secret Service "would not allow" the sitting president to go to the active combat zone. Too dangerous.

West said it was a "serious trip under serious circumstances." He said the adventure helped prove that when it came to being ready to answer the red phone at 3 a.m., Hillary is "one of the most prepared candidates, ever."

When she stepped up to the dais, Clinton too remembered the harrowing Balkan adventure. "I remember landing under sniper fire," she recalled. She and her retinue were then sent "running with our heads down to our vehicles."

Her courageous fellow travelers for that 1996 trip included her daughter, Chelsea -- oh, and singer Sheryl Crow, plus comedian Sinbad.

Sinbad, an Obama man, has already told the Washington Post's Mary Ann Akers that Clinton"s version of the trip is bunk. He described it as a feel-good USO tour. "I think the only 'red-phone' moment was: 'Do we eat here or at the next place,'" Sinbad told Akers recently. (If Akers' article is accurate, Clinton's memory of the gunfire has improved since a December speech in Iowa, when she said she was told that "there might be sniper fire" during the expedition.)

Sinbad said the whole description is ridiculous. "What kind of president would say, 'Hey, man, I can't go 'cause I might get shot so I'm going to send my wife,'" Sinbad told Akers. "'Oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you.'"

Mark Benjamin

Mark Benjamin is a national correspondent for Salon based in Washington, D.C. Read his other articles here.

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