By Andy Sullivan
ALIQUIPPA, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Wednesday attacked her rivals over Iraq, saying Democrat Barack Obama is all talk when it comes to ending the war and Republican John McCain would keep it going.
Clinton sought political gain during a week in which Iraq has taken on greater importance to American voters with the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, testifying to Congress.
New York Sen. Clinton said the expected Republican nominee for the November election, Arizona Sen. McCain, has no interest in ending the war.
She also questioned whether her rival for the Democratic nomination, Illinois Sen. Obama, was committed to pulling out U.S. troops as he says he would do.
"That's the choice. One candidate will continue the war and keep troops in Iraq indefinitely, one candidate only says he'll end the war," Clinton said at a high school in a Pittsburgh suburb.
"And one candidate is ready, willing and able to end the war and to rebuild our military while honoring our soldiers and our veterans," Clinton said of herself.
Clinton and Obama both say they would begin working to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq shortly after taking office in January 2009, a position McCain calls "a failure of leadership."
McCain, a strong supporter of the current U.S. strategy in Iraq in which thousands more U.S. troops were poured into the country in a "surge," defended the lack of a clear exit plan.
Many senators, both Democrats and Republicans, raised concerns about what they called the absence of a U.S. pathway out of Iraq after five years of war, 4,000 American dead and billions of dollars spent.
"The exit strategy is success of the surge, continued Iraqi ability to take over their security, requirements to have the democratic process go forward. It's the classic counterinsurgency strategy," McCain told the Fox News Channel.
Clinton spoke one day after Petraeus told Congress that the United States must halt troop withdrawals from Iraq in July for 45 days because security gains there are fragile.
Clinton called on President George W. Bush to propose a strategy for ending U.S. involvement in Iraq, and said he should not set up a long-term security agreement with the Iraqi government without approval from Congress.
"President Bush must not saddle the next president with an agreement that extends our involvement in Iraq beyond his presidency," said Clinton, who was flanked by retired military officials.
Clinton said U.S. troops should be guaranteed one month at home for every month they spend overseas, and should be allowed to leave the military when their contractual time is up.
She also proposed expanded educational, home loan and health benefits for troops and veterans.
Petraeus' testimony allowed Clinton, Obama and McCain to push their competing positions on the Iraq war, which remains unpopular with U.S. voters.
(Writing by Steve Holland, editing by David Wiessler)
(To read more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online here)