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Most US Democrat Presidential Hopefuls Want Troop Cut In Iraq January 11, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Politics, US News.
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WASHINGTON (AP)–The growing field of Democratic presidential candidates is almost uniformly in favor of the reverse of President George W. Bush’s plan – reducing U.S. troop presence in Iraq. Most Republicans stand behind Bush.

Two of the most prominent Democrats considering a run for the White House – Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. – said Wednesday that Bush is offering the wrong plan and called for pressure to change that approach. Both said the president should respond to voters’ concerns about the Iraq war.

Obama, in commenting on whether lawmakers should stop funding any increase in troop levels, said he does not think that anyone in Congress wants to shortchange the U.S. troops already in Iraq.

“But I think that we should take a look at what mechanisms we have available to prevent the president from pursuing a wrongheaded strategy,” Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press. “He’s commander in chief; he has a lot of discretion; but at some point our democracy is structured in such a way when a president takes a wrong course that there is an ability to correct it.”

Clinton said: “The president simply has not gotten the message sent loudly and clearly by the American people, that we desperately need a new course. The president has not offered a new direction. Instead, he will continue to take us down the wrong road, only faster.”

John Edwards, the 2004 Democratic running mate, and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack have gone a step further, calling on Congress to block funding for a troop increase. But Vilsack said he is wary of holding back funds to try to force the return of troops already deployed in Iraq.

“I’m not willing to suggest we have a cutting off of funds that would really put people in greater danger than they are today,” Vilsack told the AP.

Edwards – who has labeled a troop increase the “McCain doctrine” in a jab at Republican front-runner John McCain – said Congress “should make it clear to the president that he will not get any money to put more of our troops in harm’s way until he provides a plan to turn responsibility of Iraq over to the Iraqi people and to ultimately leave Iraq.”

Clinton, who tops every national poll of likely 2008 Democratic presidential contenders, has been criticized by many party activists for refusing to recant her 2002 vote authorizing military action in Iraq. Other Democratic hopefuls who supported the invasion – including Edwards, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden and Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd – have all called the vote a mistake.

“Based on the president’s speech tonight, I cannot support his proposed escalation of the war in Iraq,” Clinton said.

Dodd, who traveled to Iraq and Syria last month, wrote in a recent op-ed in The Des Moines Register that “searching for military solutions in Iraq today is a fool’s errand.”

In a break with the president, Republican Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., opposed a troop increase.

“I do not believe that sending more troops to Iraq is the answer. Iraq requires a political rather than a military solution,” Brownback said after meeting with top Iraqi officials in Baghdad. “I came away from these meetings convinced that the United States should not increase its involvement until Sunnis and Shi’a are more willing to cooperate with each other instead of shooting at each other.”

“Instead of surging troops, we must press the Iraqi government to reach a political solution,” he said. “We cannot achieve a political solution while a military solution is imposed. The best way to reach a democratic Iraq is to empower the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own nation building.”

McCain, R-Ariz., has said for years that more troops are needed in Iraq, but he’s also sought to separate himself from Bush by qualifying that it’s not enough just to increase troop strength – the size of the increase and how the increase is implemented are also important.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said he supported the troop increase, but insisted on a regular measure of whether the new strategy was working.

Another GOP contender, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, also lined up behind a troop increase this week, saying he would add five brigades in Baghdad and two regiments in Al-Anbar province.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat making another run for his party’s nomination, said Bush appears to be setting the stage for a wider war in the region.

“He has blamed Iran for attacks on America. The president is vowing to disrupt Iran. He is going to add an aircraft carrier to the shores off the coast of Iran. He has promised to give Patriot missiles to ‘our friends and allies.’ Isn’t one war enough for this president?” Kucinich asked. “It is time the media and the Congress began to pay attention to this president when he talks aggressively about Iran and Syria.”

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