Dem. Hopefuls Call For Complete Withdrawal From Iraq
More than 40 Democratic House and Senate candidates have endorsed a document stating that "there is no military solution in Iraq" and calling for an end to the war and the removal of all U.S. troops from the country, though not according to any specific timeline.
The strategy document, titled "A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq," calls for using "diplomatic, political and economic means" to hasten an end to the conflict. As of this writing, it has been endorsed by four Democratic Senate candidates and 38 House hopefuls, a handful of whom touted the plan on a conference call with reporters today.
Former Microsoft executive Darcy Burner, who is running against Rep. Dave Reichert (R) in Washington's 8th District and was the most vocal candidate on the conference call, said that voters' concerns about the war remained at a fever pitch despite media reports suggesting the issue had lost its saliency.
Burner said that as she travelled the district, "one of the first questions I was getting asked was, 'How are you going to get us out of Iraq?'"
Donna Edwards, who defeated Rep. Al Wynn in the February Democratic primary in Maryland's 4th District, agreed with Burner that voters wanted to know "not when but how" the war would be brought to an end. And Edwards added that voters also wondered "who will be the members of Congress to demonstrate the political will" to force the issue.
Though it does not impose a specific timeline, the Iraq withdrawal plan does go further than those that have been pushed to this point by many Democrats, in that it requires "no residual U.S. troops remain in Iraq" beyond whatever personnel are necessary to protect the American embassy there. Most other withdrawal plans have called for at least a small force to remain to continue training the Iraqi military and police.
The plan was crafted without the input or endorsement of the House and Senate Democratic leadership. Burner said "this was not driven inside the Beltway" and complained that "people inside the Beltway don't seem to get how big an issue this is for voters" in the rest of the country.
The strategy is being promoted by a group called Responsible Plan Media, a for-profit company that will sell subscriptions as well as copies of the plan in book form. The company is owned by Mike Lux, the co-founder and CEO of the political consulting firm Progressive Strategies, and it is run by activist/bloggers Matt Stoller and Marc Laitin.
In addition to today's conference call, RPM has also been promoting the plan in a series of online videos, some of which can be seen on washingtonpost.com's Channel '08 blog.
The 42 candidates who have endorsed the plan so far come from all regions of the country and a variety of backgrounds, though relatively few of them are currently in top-tier races. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a "Red to Blue" program that "highlights top Democratic campaigns across the country." Of the 21 candidates in the program, only two -- Burner and New York 29th District hopeful Eric Massa -- have endorsed the RPM plan.
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