Abdullah supports troop increase, but within a broader plan
By John Amick and T. Rees Shapiro
FOX NEWS SUNDAY - Abdullah: Afghans must have faith in runoff
Afghan opposition candidate Abdullah Abdullah said he would not fully support the Nov. 7 runoff vote against incumbent president Hamid Karzai if reforms did not take place to improve transparency and reduce fraudulent ballot numbers in the electoral process.
Abdullah also ruled out the possibility of a power-sharing agreement with Karzai, and said he believed his constituents did not have faith in Karzai's ability to clean out the country's corrupt government and reduce the threat of extremist violence.
CNN: STATE OF THE UNION - Afghan contender not interested in joining Karzai
Abdullah dismissed incumbent President Hamid Karzai's statements that the Afghan election in August was "mostly clean," and said he had no interest in joining a Karzai-led government, if Karzai wins a run-off election on Nov. 7.
"I left Mr. Karzai's government some three and a half years ago, and since then I've not been tempted to be part of that government," Abdullah said on CNN's "State of the Union." "And my trust in becoming a candidate was to not be a part of the same government, part of the same deteriorating situation. Mine was for a change in the country. Mine was for bringing hopes for the people of this country."
Read more Sunday show roundup after the jump.
Abdullah said he agrees that a strong Afghan government is needed for turning the tide in the country, and that a clean run-off election will help further Afghan solidarity. He said he supports Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's strategy assessment that more troops are needed to stablize Afghanistan, though he believes the more important broader plan must focus on how healthy Afghanistan's government is, and how security will improve.
"What's the roadmap? What are the rules? And when one partner failing on its own mission, like what has been done in the past few years, I don't see a prospect for the strategy," Abdullah said.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) bemoaned critics of President Obama, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, who say he's taking too long to make a troop-level decision.
"It's been eight years of mismanagement with President Karzai and eight years of loss of focus from the Americans as we put all of our efforts, the previous administration put all of its efforts into Iraq," he said. "Those questions remain to be answered. That's why the president needs time in making this decision."
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Obama should just listen to the "masters of counterinsurgency," McChrystal and CENTCOM commander Gen. David H. Petraeus, when making decisions in the war.
"They need these troops, there's no question about it," Hatch said. "And we're exposing our young men and women over there -- a number of them have been killed, I'm not blaming the president for that, but we're exposing them without the proper help that they've just got to have.
When asked about Cheney's comment, Hatch said he "would never want to call my president 'dithering'."
Crucial vote in health-care reform still uncommitted
Moderate Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), part of a crucial voting bloc in the Senate, said he has made no promises on how he might vote on health-care legislation with a public option included because he wants to see the bill first. Yet, he did say that while he was not excited about an "opt-out" plan that would allow states to decline the public option, he was intrigued by an "opt-in" provision.
"I'll take a look at the one where states could opt in if they make the decision themselves," Nelson said. "Look, I'm a Jeffersonian Democrat. I think the states can make decisions on their own about their own citizens.
CBS: FACE THE NATION - Feingold: Afghanistan argument based on false assumptions
The assumption that American interests in defeating al-Qaeda rest in committing many more resources in Afghanistan to oust the Taliban and other counterinsurgents is wrong and the president should think hard before sending more American troops into such a situation, Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) said Sunday.
"Remember, al-Qaeda didn't begin in Afghanistan," Feingold said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "It came over from having been in Sudan and other places. And after the heat came down on them, they went to Pakistan. They have a presence in places like Somalia and Yemen. So the idea that somehow Afghanistan is the key to this is a wrong-headed view of an international criminal syndicate that we should be going after."
Feingold said the U.S. should immediately consider announcing a timetable for the subsequent withdrawal of American presence in Afghanistan.
"I would like the president to consider announcing a flexible timetable by which time we would begin to bring the troops home and give the Afghan people and the American people a sense of how long we intend to continue this," he said. "That will help stabilize Afghanistan, make it look less like we're a foreign occupier. It will certainly help support in the United States. And I think that's the way to go."
A supporter for McChrystal's assessment, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), said that Obama will have trouble with his own party if he adds many more troops. Feingold disagreed, saying American opinion is broadly against an escalation of the war, no matter party affiliation, and the president will have problems with a much larger section of the country and not just within Democratic circles.
ABC: THIS WEEK - McConnell: Congress will support more H1N1 support
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he believes broad bipartisan support would approve more resources to combat the H1N1 flu virus if the Obama administration asked for it.
When asked if he was worried about recent poll numbers that put Americans claiming to be Republican at around 20 percent, McConnell said those numbers don't mean much when compared to polling that shows Republicans two points behind Democrats in voter preference. How people vote matters, he said, not what party voters align themselves with.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said while she supports a public option in health-care reform legislation, she would not stipulate which version she would prefer, nor would she predict what would be included by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada). McCaskill did say she wouldn't be surprised if Senate moderates like Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) -- who all have expressed doubts about a public option -- would support some version of it down the road.
NBC: MEET THE PRESS - Schumer: Executives have a responsibility after bailout
Senate Finance Committee member Sen. Charles P. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he would support publicly releasing the names of executives who would receive record bonuses funded by the government bailout. The government has no precedent to control the salaries of executives of private companies, Schumer said, but "it's a different ball game" when "massive amounts of government money" has been invested into the companies who have been relieved by the bailout.
Schumer also applauded Obama administration "pay czar" Kenneth Feinberg's "Less salary, more stock" executive pay cut strategy, which Sen.
Schumer said will curb benefits paid with government money.
On Afghanistan Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said a combat troop surge alone will not win the war. Cornyn said "we need a change in strategy," to the counter-insurgency package Gen. McChrystal has suggested in order to see some signs of success. But he said a decision to provide some increase to the level of combat troops on the ground is still imperative in order to improve security.
Posted at 12:46 PM ET on Oct 25, 2009
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