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Democrats Search for Positions on Iraq War

As the standoff between Democrats and President Bush continues over funding for the Iraq war, front-runners for the Democratic presidential nomination approach the war from different angles. Two journalists discuss the politics of the war.

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    The debate over Iraq policy in Washington continued today with Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Bush trading barbs over how to properly fund military operations in Iraq. The president reiterated his push for a clean funding bill without any strings attached.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: And I believe artificial timetables of withdrawal would be a mistake.


    While Democratic Leader Reid stood his ground, maintaining that troop withdrawal language is mandatory.

  • SEN. HARRY REID, D-Nev., Senate Majority Leader:

    Our timetable is fair, and it's reasonable.


    And Reid has the support of the Democratic field of presidential candidates. All believe the problems facing Iraq require a political engagement rather than military force.

    GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), New Mexico: You have to get the warring factions in Iraq, the religious groups — the Shia, the Sunni, the Kurds — in a coalition government.


    Each candidate has also argued that Iraq's neighbors, including Syria and Iran, must be engaged to help stabilize the region.

    JOHN EDWARDS, Candidate for President: They're going to have to reach a political reconciliation or there will be no peace in Iraq. And whatever number of American troops are there will not have changed that.


    But while most have called for a specific timetable for American troop withdrawal, it is here that the details vary. Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards would have all personnel out of Iraq by September 2008.

    Sens. Hillary Clinton and Christopher Dodd both support a phased redeployment of forces, with most personnel out by the end of March 2008. That's also the position of Senator Barack Obama, who said during a speech in Chicago today that a responsible end to the war would re-establish the United States' position of leadership in the world.


    We've seen the consequences of a foreign policy based on flawed ideology and a belief that tough talk can replace real strength and vision. Many around the world are disappointed with our actions.


    Delaware Sen. Joe Biden and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson propose withdrawing most U.S. forces by the end of this year.


    Look, people say, "Well, just get out." Everybody wants to get out. Everybody wants out, no one faster then I want to get out. But, ladies and gentlemen, if that civil war metastasizes into a regional war, we're going to be sending your grandchildren back.


    Only Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel are calling for all troops to be pulled out now.