In a recent Democratic presidential candidates’ debate at Dartmouth, we finally got to see where the candidates really stand on Iraq.
Of the top four candidates, only one committed to bringing all of the troops home within his first term as president: Gov. Bill Richardson. It’s no coincidence that Richardson is the candidate with the most foreign policy experience and possesses diplomatic skills unsurpassed by any of his rivals.
Sens. Clinton, Obama and Edwards all have said they would leave troops in Iraq, and in the debate, were unable to commit to getting all of the troops out before 2013.
Residual troops equals stay the course, and that’s simply unacceptable. Bill Richardson is a proven leader with real results, and he’s committed to bringing Bush’s foreign policy debacle to an end immediately. Can we afford another five years of stay the course? I don’t think so.
I've also learned from campaign staff that Governor Richardson will also be on POTUS 08 (XM radio station) today at 1 pm ET and 10 pm ET.The program is on XM Radio channel 130.
UPDATE: Governor Richardson will be on This Week with George Stephanopolous this Sunday. The show airs live at 9am ET, though for our friends in New Mexico it won't air until 4pm. So check your local listings.
I'm at the Washington State Democrats Central Committee meeting this weekend, representing Bill Richardson for President, signing up new supporters and making connections with Democrats around the state. Thanks to Aaron Belenky, Jack Arends and Becky Graham for all of their support and hard work this weekend. Without them, this would have been a one-man show.
Last night, Aaron Belenky hosted the Richardson for President hospitality suite. With the help of Aaron's projector and my laptop we showed Governor Richardson's new ad (the 5 minute version) that lays out his positioon on Iraq and clearly delineates where the other candidates stand. The video was looped and played over and over endlessly, until the battery died on the laptop. We received a great reception from Democrats from around Washington state. Everyone was very positive about Governor Richardson, many are already supporting him, and those who weren't had him as their second choice. I'm pleasantly surprised by the level of support we're seeing from the party faithful, and think that we're on the cusp of becoming a more visible force in Washington.
I also spoke to the Washington State Democrats Hispanic/Latino caucus this morning and gave out literature on Mi Familia Con Richardson. Many of the caucus members had met Governor Richardson in May when he came out to Seattle. This morning they welcomed me to the "family". The Latino caucus is very excited and motivated about supporting Governor Richardson's campaign and so we're working to turn that into action.
In addition, we've got a DNC vacancy to fill, and one of the candidates is a supporter of Governor Richardson. So, I've been providing assistance to her campaign to get appointed, so that we can increase the number of friends that Governor Richardson has on the DNC.
We've also signed up some new supporters and picked up a number of endorsements of party leaders while we've been here in Wenatchee. This support will be crucial when we get out the vote for our caucuses.
So it's been a very good weekend for the campaign here in Washington, and people out here are very positive about Bill Richardson and ready to get the campaign rolling.
It is unclear how many people Bill Richardson is winning over with his new television ads featuring bloggers talking about the importance of the 'residual troops' issue, but many appreciate the effort. blogs: "I'm not sure why Bill Richardson thinks putting netroots activists in his ad attempting to raise the issue will help him, but I'm glad he's raising the issue. ... One fears that Richardson may have committed too many gaffes at this point to gain traction, but I hope this ad helps him and forces the other candidates to start addressing this issue." The Left Coaster's Ken Camp writes: "Don't be fooled by the kabuki dance or rhetorical gymnastics of the other candidates. Residual troops equals stay the course, and that's simply unacceptable."
[I posted this yesterday over at The Left Coaster, but didn't have time to post it here.]
Governor Bill Richardson has been asking these questions of all of the other Democratic candidates, yet none is able to provide a clear, decisive answer to how many troops they'll leave in Iraq.
Yesterday, I participated in a phone conference with Governor Richardson's Campaign Manager Dave Contarino, Chris Bowers and Matt Stoller of Open Left, and Christina Siun O'Connell of Firedoglake, to announce Governor Richardson's latest effort to get the American people an answer to the question of how many troops will be left behind in Iraq depending on which Democrat becomes the next President.
Opponents of Governor Richardson's plan have tried to muddy the waters by questioning whether the United States Marines who guard the embassy in Iraq are considered residual troops. They are not. All United States Embassies are considered sovereign U.S. soil and are guarded by a contingent of Marines. Bill Richardson, as with every other candidate, would leave the Marines in Iraq to guard the embassy, as is done with all other embassies in the world. The question is, in addition to those United States Marines who will guard the embassy, how many troops will each of the candidates leave in Iraq. Bill Richardson will leave no troops in Iraq. What about Senators Clinton, Obama and Edwards?
You can add your voice to the strong chorus of Americans calling on the candidates to tell us how many troops they'll leave in Iraq and for how long. Governor Richardson has set up a new website: Get Our Troops Out, where your voice can be heard. The website also has a very cool map that shows the location of people across the nation who have joined Bill Richardson's call to end the war now and get all the troops out. So go to Get Our Troops Out today and join the cause.
Don't be fooled by the kabuki dance or rhetorical gymnastics of the other candidates. Residual troops equals stay the course, and that's simply unacceptable.
Because fellow governor Bill Richardson is in the race for the Democratic nomination, Greogire [sic] said she is remaining neutral out of respect for him. If he drops out, Gregoire would only say she's looking, as she said most people are, at the top three candidates, Edwards, Obama and Clinton. [emphasis mine]
We're getting to the end of the 3rd quarter of fundraising, and Bill Richardson needs our support to keep the momentum going. So, I've set up a Washington state fundraising page on the Richardson for President website. My goal is for this group to raise $750 by September 30. This is a realistic goal that I know we can reach, as we have 125 members in our group on the website, and many more supporters who read this blog.
I'm asking each of you to give Bill Richardson $6 to keep getting his message of change and experience out. I can sacrifice going to Starbucks twice next week in order to make a difference in our country. Will you help? Even if you're unable to give $6, please donate whatever amount you can. Every little bit helps.Together, we can all make a difference in this campaign.
Here is the link to the fundraising page, and please click on contribute now and make your donation before midnight on September 30.
Governor Richardson answers that question in an op-ed published in the Washington Post, while laying out his plan for ending George Bush's war and calling out his rivals on how many troops they would leave in Iraq and for how long.
Our troops have done everything they were asked to do with courage and professionalism, but they cannot win someone else's civil war. So long as American troops are in Iraq, reconciliation among Iraqi factions is postponed. Leaving forces there enables the Iraqis to delay taking the necessary steps to end the violence. And it prevents us from using diplomacy to bring in other nations to help stabilize and rebuild the country.
The presence of American forces in Iraq weakens us in the war against al-Qaeda. It endows the anti-American propaganda of those who portray us as occupiers plundering Iraq's oil and repressing Muslims. The day we leave, this myth collapses, and the Iraqis will drive foreign jihadists out of their country. Our departure would also enable us to focus on defeating the terrorists who attacked us on Sept. 11, those headquartered along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border -- not in Iraq.
Logistically, it would be possible to withdraw in six to eight months. We moved as many as 240,000 troops into and out of Iraq through Kuwait in as little as a three-month period during major troop rotations. After the Persian Gulf War, we redeployed nearly a half-million troops in a few months. We could redeploy even faster if we negotiated with the Turks to open a route out through Turkey.
As our withdrawal begins, we will gain diplomatic leverage. Iraqis will start seeing us as brokers, not occupiers. Iraq's neighbors will face the reality that if they don't help with stabilization, they will face the consequences of Iraq's collapse -- including even greater refugee flows over their borders and possible war.
This is the kind of plan that can only be conceived by a seasoned foreign policy operative. The reason Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards won't answer the question is because none of them has the foreign policy experience necessary to stand up to today's foreign policy challenges and restore American prestige in the global community. Only Bill Richardson can lead us out of Iraq and bring a new realism to American foreign policy.
Tune in at 6:30pm Eastern/5:30pm Central/4:30pm Mountain/3:30pm Pacific for the Univision debate in Miami. This is the debate that's aimed at the Latino community, and there is no doubt that Governor Richardson will do well.
Please note that though Governor Richardson and Senator Dodd both speak fluent Spanish, and will likely answer the questions in that language, the debate will mostly be conducted in English and translated.
All the major Democratic candidates say they are eager to end this war, and they all say they don’t believe there is a military solution in Iraq. Why, then, do they maintain that we must leave an indefinite number of troops behind for an indeterminate amount of time to work hopelessly towards a military solution everyone says doesn’t exist?
It is time to get a straight answer from all the other candidates: how many troops would you leave behind? For how long?
Bill Richardson's position has been clear and strong: No troops left behind. None, zero, zip, zilch, nada. Not one residual troop left in Iraq.
Anything above the security detail for the US embassy in Baghdad (all U.S. embassies in the world have Marine guards) is one troop too many. You want advisors to train Iraqi troops, you want a strike force to hit terrorist camps and whatnot, stick them over the horizon in Kuwait.
But if nothing else, can we please just get a clear answer to that damn question?
Over at Open Left, Chris Bowers shows his disdain for candidates who dodge this serious question.
I applaud Richardson's efforts on this front, just as I applauded MSNBC when they attempted to get straight answers from candidates on how many troops they intend to leave in Iraq if they become President. However, if my experience on this front is any indication, even if this question is asked at the Univision debate, in all likelihood no one except Richardson and Biden will answer the question (Kucinich and Gravel might, since it is hard to predict what they do). The question will be labeled hypothetical, and the response will be that they will listen to the commanders on the ground. And then, the debate will move on to the next question.
The more I think about this dodge from Clinton, Obama, and Edwards on how many troops they intend to leave in Iraq, the angrier I become. Why is an inquiry into how many troops they intend to leave in Iraq a hypothetical question not worthy of an answer, but inquiries into how much their health care plans will reduce the cost of insurance premiums a hypoethical question worthy of prominently displaying an answer to on your website?
I think Richardson, more and more, is showing the strongest voice on getting out of Iraq, and unlike Clinton or Edwards, Obama is not going to be able to shut down Richardson's move to his left, based on the 2002 vote.
So sign the petition and demand that the other Democratic candidates stand up and unequivocally state their position on how many troops they'll leave in Iraq and for how long.
We've always known where Bill Richardson stands. Where do the others stand?
"The only appropriation Congress should pass for this war is funding for a safe and quick withdrawal. This Congress was elected to end the war in Iraq. They need to stand up to President Bush and do the job. This is an issue where leadership means no compromises. It took us too many years and far too many lives to end the war in Vietnam, and we cannot repeat that mistake.
"Congress should use every power at its disposal to end this war, including de-authorization and refusing to fund the war beyond what is necessary for the safe redeployment of our troops.
"George Bush should show less concern about his legacy and pay more attention to the lives of our men and women in harm’s way. The best way to support our troops is to get them all out of Iraq as soon as it can safely be accomplished.
"This administration miscalculated the intelligence before the war, mismanaged the war itself, bungled the surge, and now has the audacity to ask Congress for more funding to continue this tragic misadventure. The answer should be a resounding no." [emphasis mine]
In other words, deauthorize the war and get all of the troops out ASAP. No compromises, no games, straight to the point.
Of the top four Democratic Presidential candidates, Bill Richardson has the strongest plan, calling for ending the war now (he's been calling for that for months) and leaving no residual troops. But, as Chris Weigant notices, Bill Richardson is also the candidate most willing to share details of his plan.
Bill Richardson is one of the most consistent voices in the Democratic campaign on Iraq. He not only wants to begin withdrawing troops, he wants them all out in six months. All of them. This is significant because many of the other candidates refuse to give an honest answer to the question: How many troops would you leave behind, and for how long? Richardson does so admirably.
He lays out his 7 point plan on his website, in an attempt to answer every question about how exactly we should get out of Iraq. This is also significant, because many of the candidates' websites are severely lacking in details, instead merely hitting broad generalities. Richardson tells you exactly what he wants to do on Iraq, in enough detail to answer your questions but not with so much minutiæ that your eyes glaze over. He seems to have struck a perfect balance on how to address the issue.
After 6+ years of government operating in secret, you'd think that Democratic candidates would be eager to share their plans for a new direction for American foreign policy. I'm saying that Richardson's rivals are hiding something, but perhaps they're not forthcoming because none of them has the foreign policy chops that Richardson has and it would show if they released a detailed plan.
Richardson Fights Cancer, Promotes Health Care at Forum
As someone who has had 1 aunt, 1 uncle, 2 grandfathers, 1 great-uncle, and 1 cousin die of cancer, and another cousin currently suffering from the disease, I was happy to see Governor Richardson take part in Lance Armstrong's LIVESTRONG Presidential forum yesterday.
There's no way around it: cancer sucks. We all know someone who has been affected by this disease and we need a federal government committed to research for a cure.
Here is the video of Governor Richardson at the LIVESTRONG forum.