Hillary Clinton awarded Liberty Medal, calls for ‘strong response' against Syria

Eric Pfeiffer

Hillary Clinton used her award ceremony at the National Constitution Center on Tuesday night to renew her call for action against the Syrian regime over its alleged use of chemical weapons against its own citizens.

Clinton was on hand to receive the National Constitution Center’s 25th annual Liberty Medal for her work on the international stage and on behalf of women and children.

There has been more attention paid to Tuesday night’s ceremony because former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush awarded Clinton the medal. Clinton and Bush are both believed to be seriously considering presidential campaigns in 2016.

“We do have some political disagreements,” Bush joked in his introductory remarks. “But there’s one thing we do agree on: the American people — especially those of Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina.”

Bush currently serves as director of the Constitution Center’s Board of Trustees.

“The president will address the nation shortly about the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons against men, women and children,” Clinton told the audience in Philadelphia before President Barack Obama's address to the nation on Tuesday night. “It demands a strong response from the international community led by the United States.”

Clinton and Obama reportedly met at the White House on Monday to discuss the administration’s approach to the issue.

And while Clinton said the current debate over whether the U.S. should get involved in the Syrian civil war is “good for our democracy,” she also issued strong words against opponents of Obama.

“How do we respond when international rules of the road are violated?” Clinton asked the crowd. “When we let partisanship override citizenship … our standing in the world suffers.”

On Monday, Clinton said that an international effort led by Russia to have Syria hand over its chemical weapons had potential but also suggested concern that any such move could simply be a delay tactic from Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“If the regime immediately surrendered its stockpiles to international control,” as proposed by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia, that would be an important step,” Clinton said. “But this cannot be another excuse for delay or obstruction — and Russia has to support the international community’s efforts sincerely or be held to account.”

In addition to Bush’s remarks, Clinton received praise from a set of bipartisan individuals including Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Republican strategist Mark McKinnon.