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In Wake of Iraq Report, Troop Levels Stir Debate

This week, Gen. David Petraeus and Amb. Ryan Crocker spoke to Congressional panels about the current situation in Iraq and President Bush backed shorter Iraq troop tours. Analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks discuss the week in the news.

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    And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    David, do you detect any real change, any real movement in Pennsylvania before the April 22nd primary?

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    Not at this point, certainly no change in the ads. Those are some of the most conventional political ads you could see. You see the same kind of ads every cycle; I doubt they'll move anybody.

    I think the basic momentum of this race on the Democratic side is Obama going along smoothly, really no problems, continued potholes for the Clinton campaign. Mark Penn was fired, or pushed out, or "Rumsfelded" out. And…


    "Rumsfelded" out. Is that your view, Mark?


    Slightly pushed out, much too late, that sort of thing. And Bill Clinton stepped in it again by bringing up this issue of the Tuzla airport and what Hillary did and didn't say, what didn't happen, and some reporter mentioned that in Bill Clinton's speech he crammed six falsehoods into one little, brief snippet.

    So that was another stumble for — basically, the momentum is Obama was gaining for awhile in Pennsylvania. Now it seems to have stabilized with Clinton with a 6-, 9-point lead, somewhere around there.


    Six-, nine-point lead.

    How do you see it, Mark?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    I see it not dissimilarly from the way David does. I do think the ads make sense, more sense, especially the one Obama showed, and there's another one, personal, that we didn't have time for of Hillary, and that is the sense of they have to connect with voters at a personal level.

    The doubts about Obama are not about his ability to change things or to be inspirational, to be smart, or to be different. It's am I safe with him? Are his values my values? And that's what that ad was about, was establishing that his values are your values, that he is very much an American, even though his personal narrative is different from that, the overwhelming majority of Americans having grown-up in Indonesia, dad Kenyan, mother from Kansas.

    And Senator Clinton, the same thing, I mean, she's got one where she talks about playing pinochle growing up in Pennsylvania. It is a sense of trying to communicate.

    But his problem is that he has to do that. Am I safe with him, in the sense not simply of commander-in-chief, but on the values? Hers is, can I trust her? And that's where David's point comes in.

    I mean, those contradictions, the president, President Clinton, saying that she actually, you know, said it once, at 11 o'clock at night…


    This is when she was landing in Bosnia.


    When she was in Bosnia.




    You know, it's just — and then whether she was for NAFTA or she wasn't for NAFTA, you know, they reinforce and they underline the doubt that voters have about her and about the Clintons is, can I trust them?

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