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Stretching the Facts on Iraq?

For close to a week now, Republicans have been making hay over a video clip of Pennsylvania Rep. Paul Kanjorski suggesting that his fellow Democrats may have lied to voters during the 2006 election about their ability to "stop the war" in Iraq.

Here's the clip in question, a 30-second snippet -- uploaded to YouTube by the National Republican Congressional Committee -- of a longer town hall meeting Kanjorski conducted in 2007:

"I'll tell you my impression," Kanjorski says in the video. "We really in this last election -- when I say we, the Democrats -- I think pushed it as far as we can, the envelope. We didn't say it, but we implied it, if we won the congressional elections, we could stop the war. Now anybody who is a good student of government would know that wasn't true. But you know the temptation to want to win back the Congress, we sort of stretched the facts, and people ate it up."

After the video surfaced, Kanjorski issued a statement saying: "In an August 2007 town meeting, I shared the frustration of my constituents that the war in Iraq continued. I expressed my belief that some Democrats in 2006 overestimated the ability of a single house of Congress to end the war, particularly in the face of an intransigent President and Senate Republicans who are committed to continuing the war. I believe that it is time for the Iraqis to take care of Iraq, and we need to execute a sensible withdrawal plan."

Now, Kanjorski suggests in his statement that some of his colleagues "overestimated" the House's ability to end the war. That is markedly different from saying, as he did in the video, that Democrats "stretched the facts." Either way, the NRCC and Kanjorski's GOP opponent, Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, have been stirring up media coverage of this issue and will continue to do so through November.

Columnist Michael Kinsley once famously defined a "gaffe" as "when a politician tells the truth." Is that what Kanjorski did here? Or was he simply suggesting -- as Democrats have done repeatedly -- that his party wants to end the war but has been unable to overcome the opposition of President Bush and congressional Republicans? Give us your take in the comments section below.

By Ben Pershing  |  May 27, 2008; 12:45 PM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign , House , Iraq  
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