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Iraq: Kerry Urges Timeline for Withdrawal

Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) used a speech today at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., to become the second Democrat considering the 2008 race to call for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Kerry called for an initial pullout of 20,000 troops in the immediate wake of Iraqi elections now planned for December, with a goal of removing the "bulk" of the American military by the end of 2006.

"The draw-down of troops should be tied not to an arbitrary timetable but to a specific timetable for transfer of political and security responsibility to Iraqis and realignment of troop deployment," said Kerry.

The 2004 Democratic presidential nominee also cast the next six months as "make or break" for Iraq. "The president must take a new course, and hold Iraqis accountable," he said.

Dressed in dark suit with blue shirt and red tie, Kerry spoke from a wooden podium on a stage decorated with six American flags. He was interrupted for applause four times during the address, which lasted roughly 30 minutes.

Kerry follows Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), who proposed a similar timetable for withdrawal earlier this year.  Public support for the war is falling nationally and is lowest among registered Democrats, putting pressure on potential 2008 Democratic candidates to take a vocal stand.  Kerry, who voted for the 2002 war resolution, said today of his early support, "I accept my share of the responsibility."

[Editor's Note: Chris and Post reporter Josh White co-wrote a piece on the Kerry speech for the Oct. 27 edition:  "Kerry Urges U.S. to Start Withdrawal From Iraq."

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 26, 2005; 3:29 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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