Hillary Clinton has declined to make specific promises on some major issues, giving herself greater leeway if she becomes president.
Clinton says she opposes "a rush to war," and calls for economic sanctions and diplomacy to dissuade Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
But she voted for a Senate resolution that her rivals say opened the door for the Bush administration to take military action. And during Tuesday night's debate, she pointedly refused to say what her "red line" would be regarding when or if to attack Iran.
"I am not going to speculate about when or if they get nuclear weapons," she said Tuesday night.
Clinton says she would end the war and begin withdrawing US troops.
But she won't commit to a deadline. Instead, she says that some troops would remain to protect US diplomats, to pursue Al Qaeda in Iraq, and possibly to train the Iraqi military.
"I also know that it's going to be complicated, and it's going to take time. And I intend to do it in a responsible manner that is as safe for our troops as possible," she said during the debate.
Clinton says there is a long-term need to reform Social Security.
But she won't say what fixes she would support other than not doing it "on the backs of seniors and middle class families." Instead, she wants to move toward a balanced budget, then have a bipartisan commission recommend solutions.
"Anything can be considered when we get to a bipartisan commission, but personally I am not going to be advocating any specific fix until I am seriously approaching fiscal responsibility," she said Tuesday night.
Clinton wants to repeal President Bush's tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 a year to help pay for universal healthcare. She also says she would stop alternative minimum tax from hitting middle-class taxpayers.
But she won't commit to a specific proposal to offset the alternative minimum tax. For instance, she would not commit to a powerful House Democrat's plan to impose a surtax on the wealthy.
"How we do it and how we put it together, everybody knows, is extremely complicated. . . . I'm not going to get committed to a specific approach," she said during the debate.
Clinton supported North American Free Trade Agreement, which was signed by her husband in 1993 and lifted most tariffs among the United States, Canada, and Mexico. She has backed free trade generally.
Now Clinton says NAFTA should be reassessed and adjusted because it mostly benefited the wealthy and cost too many jobs. She also wants a "timeout" on further trade deals until more study.
"Part of leadership is continuing to evaluate what we currently do to figure out if we can do it better," she said in Iowa last month.
SOURCES: Clinton campaign, transcript of MSNBC debate, news reports