Kucinich to run in ’08 on an­ti­war plat­form

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Christina Bellantoni

Rep. Den­nis J. Kucinich raised the stakes for Demo­cratic White House hope­fuls on Dec. 12, jump­ing into the 2008 race with a chal­lenge to his own party — end the war in Iraq.

The Ohio Demo­crat mak­ing his sec­ond bid for the pres­i­dency called him­self the only true an­ti­war can­di­date, say­ing the U.S. should de­fund the war im­me­di­ately and bring the troops home.

“My con­science calls me to ac­tion,” Mr. Kucinich, 60, said at Cleve­land City Hall. “I am not go­ing to stand by and watch thou­sands more of our brave young Amer­i­can men and women killed in Iraq, or per­ma­nently in­jured, while our lead­ers are ready to take ac­tion to keep the war go­ing.”

The other Democrats weigh­ing pres­i­den­tial runs are in a tough spot, fear­ing Repub­li­cans would use an anti-war po­si­tion to paint them as un­sup­port­ive of U.S. troops. But they were bol­stered ear­lier this month when the bi­par­ti­san Iraq Study Group sug­gested that most troops be with­drawn by early 2008.

Not one law­maker has in­di­cated sup­port for Mr. Kucinich’s de­fund­ing plan, with each pres­i­den­tial hope­ful in­stead of­fer­ing nu­anced po­si­tions on phased troop with­drawal and most call­ing for an in­ter­na­tional diplo­matic sum­mit.

Demo­cratic front-run­ner Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton of New York has been crit­i­cized for her 2002 vote for the war, along with sev­eral other pos­si­ble can­di­dates. Some Democrats like Sen. Barack Obama of Illi­nois and Joseph R. Bi­den Jr. of Delaware are con­fronting the is­sue head-on with clear calls for change in Iraq on their po­lit­i­cal Web sites. Vis­i­tors to Mrs. Clin­ton’s site and that of for­mer Sen. John Ed­wards must dig for men­tion of Iraq.

Mr. Kucinich said the Demo­cratic takeover of Congress in last month’s elec­tions sug­gests the Amer­i­can peo­ple want se­ri­ous change in Iraq.

“They voted for the Democrats be­cause they ex­pected us to [. . . ] bring our troops home,” he said. “What kind of cred­i­bil­ity will our party have if we say we are op­posed to the war but con­tinue to fund it?”

He slammed Democrats for sup­port­ing bil­lions in Iraq war spend­ing so far, and noted Democrats plan to sup­port Pres­i­dent Bush’s next spend­ing re­quest of $160 bil­lion. Mr. Kucinich un­suc­cess­fully sought the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion as an an­ti­war can­di­date in 2004 but dropped his bid af­ter lack­lus­ter per­for­mance in state pri­maries, fin­ish­ing next to last in both New Hamp­shire and Iowa.

Now, Mr. Kucinich is the only can­di­date who served in Congress and op­posed the war. All the sen­a­tors con­sid­er­ing White House bids who served in 2002 voted for the war. But Mr. Obama, first elected in 2004, for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore and Iowa Gov. Tom Vil­sack do not have past votes to de­fend or re­pu­di­ate.

Mr. Ed­wards, the 2004 vi­cepres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, last year wrote an edi­to­rial say­ing his vote for the war was “wrong.”

The sen­a­tors con­sid­er­ing bids cast sym­bolic votes ear­lier this year on two dif­fer­ent Demo­cratic plans for Iraq. One, pro­posed by 2004 nom­i­nee Sen. John Kerry of Mas­sachusetts called for full troop with­drawal by July 2007. It was over­whelm­ingly re­jected, and Mr. Kerry was the only 2008 hope­ful vot­ing for it. The other, which called for phased with­drawal start­ing Dec. 31, failed 6039, with all the 2008 po­ten­tial can­di­dates sup­port­ing it.

Repub­li­cans la­beled those Democrats as fa­vor­ing “cut and run.”

Mr. Vil­sack, the only de­clared Demo­crat be­sides Mr. Kucinich, crit­i­cizes pre­sumed Repub­li­can can­di­date Sen. John McCain of Ari­zona on his Web site for say­ing re­cently more troops are needed in Iraq.

“We’ve cre­ated a cul­ture of de­pen­dence in Iraq,” Mr. Vil­sack said. “We need to re­move that crutch [. . . ] and give the Iraqis sole re­spon­si­bil­ity for their own safety and se­cu­rity.”

A vis­i­tor to Mrs. Clin­ton’s po­lit­i­cal Web site has to search for her Iraq po­si­tion, found in a speech she made this fall.

“Phased re­de­ploy­ment will get the at­ten­tion of the Iraqi lead­er­ship,” she said, not­ing she wants to es­tab­lish an oil trust to guar­an­tee each Iraqi “would share [an­nu­ally] in the coun­try’s oil wealth.”

Mr. Obama of­ten re­minds vot­ers of his early op­po­si­tion to the war and his long call for set­ting a timetable for phased troop with­drawal. In a speech last month, Mr. Obama said the U.S. must com­mu­ni­cate that “the days of ask­ing, urg­ing, and wait­ing for [Iraqis] to take con­trol of their own coun­try are com­ing to an end.”

Mr. Bi­den has called for Iraq to be di­vided into three re­gions held to­gether by a cen­tral gov­ern­ment in Bagh­dad.

“The course we’re on has no end in sight,” he said. “This plan can al­low us to achieve the two ob­jec­tives most Amer­i­cans share: to leave Iraq with­out leav­ing chaos be­hind.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.