The Democrats on Iraq.

The Democrats on Iraq.

The Democrats on Iraq.

The inner workings of Slate.
Sept. 7 2007 10:23 AM

The Great Presidential Mashup

The Democrats on Iraq.

On Sept. 12, Slate, Yahoo!, and the Huffington Post will host the first-ever online-only presidential candidate mashup. Armed with your questions, Charlie Rose will ask the top Democratic presidential candidates about their views on health care, Iraq, education, and other issues. Their video responses will be coded and put at your disposal—empowering you to create your own custom candidate forum. Want to hear every candidate's position on the war? Hillary's positions on every issue? Obama's view on health care? Our mashup will allow you to do all of the above.

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But before we get there, there's homework to do. What have the candidates said on the issues so far? Are they changing their stories? Our cheat sheet on the previous debates will help you be the judge. Today, we offer background information on Iraq, one of the three issues selected by readers for the Slate/Yahoo!/Huffington Postcandidate mashup. Read the candidates' stances below. 

Sen. Joe Biden

Sen. Joe Biden  

South Carolina Debate, April 26, 2007 

Look, [the Iraq War] is not a game show. You know, this is not a football game. This is not win or lose. The fact of the matter is that the president has a fundamentally flawed policy. It's based upon the notion of being able to set a strong, central government in Baghdad that will be democratic. And the real question is: Are we going to be able to leave Iraq, get our troops out, and leave behind something other than chaos?

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There's only one way. You've got to change the fundamental premise of this engagement, and that is: You've got to decentralize Iraq, you've got to give the regions control over their own destiny, get them control over their police forces, their own identity, and have a limited central government and share their oil wealth. 

New Hampshire Debate, June 3, 2007

We've not been told the truth about this war from the beginning by this president. And the fact is, we got to tell the truth now. The truth now is, there are 160,000 forces in Iraq. They're in harm's way. Seventy percent of all the injuries are caused by land—those IEDs. We know that if we put in these mine-resistant vehicles, the V-shaped-hull vehicles, put them in now, we could save two-thirds of the lives and two-thirds of the injuries. My colleagues joined me when I proposed fast-forwarding the funding for that so we could get 2,500 of them into the field by August. If we had voted no and stopped this, it would have delayed that. Lives are at stake.

I cannot—as long as there is a single troop in Iraq that I know if I take action by funding them, I increase the prospect they will live or not be injured—I cannot and will not vote no to fund them. 

CNN/YouTube Debate, July 23, 2007

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You know we can't just pull out now. Let's get something straight. It's time to start to tell the truth. The truth of the matter is: If we started today, it would take one year, one year to get 160,000 troops physically out of Iraq, logistically. That's No. 1. No. 2, you cannot pull out of Iraq without the follow-on that's been projected here, unless you have a political solution. I'm the only one that's offered a political solution. And it literally means separate the parties; give them jurisdiction in their own areas; have a decentralized government, a federal system. No central government will work. And, thirdly, the fact of the matter is, the very thing everybody's quoting is the very legislation I wrote in January. It said: Begin to draw down combat troops now; get the majority of the combat troops out by March of '08. There's not one person in here that can say we're going to eliminate all troops

No. 1, there is not a single military man in this audience who will tell this senator he can get those troops out in six months if the order goes today. Let's start telling the truth. No. 1, you take all the troops out. You better have helicopters ready to take those 3,000 civilians inside the Green Zone where I have been seven times and shot at. You better make sure you have protection for them, or let them die, No. 1. So we can't leave them there. And it's going to take a minimum 5,000 troops to 10,000 just to protect our civilians. So, while you're taking them out, Governor, take everybody out. That may be necessary. No. 3, the idea that we all voted—except for me—for that appropriation. That man's son is dead. For all I know, it was an IED. Seventy percent of all the deaths occurred have been those roadside bombs. We have money in that bill to begin to build and send immediately mine-resistant vehicles that increase by 80 percent the likelihood none of your cadets will die, General. And they all voted against it. How in good conscience can you vote not to send those vehicles over there as long as there's one single, solitary troop there?

AFL-CIO Debate, Aug. 7, 2007

Bush has not told the truth for seven years; it's time we tell the truth. The truth is, if Iraq—if al-Qaida establishes a base in Iraq, all these people who talk about going into Pakistan are going to have to send your kids back to Iraq.

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The fact of the matter is, it matters how we get out of Iraq. And I'm the only one on this stage that has a detailed political plan how to get out. Separate the parties. Let them be in regions. Give them control over their own security. Set up a limited central government. Begin to draw down our troops. But let's start talking the truth to the American people. 

Sen. Hillary Clinton

Sen. Hillary Clinton

South Carolina Debate, April 26, 2007 

The Congress has voted, as of today, to end this war. I'm very proud of the Congress under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid for putting together a piece of legislation which says we will fund our troops and protect them, we will limit the number of days that they can be deployed, and we will start to bring them home.

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This is not America's war to win or lose. We have given the Iraqi people the chance to have freedom, to have their own country. It is up to them to decide whether or not they're going to take that chance.

I've said many times that, if I knew then what I now know, I would not have voted that way.

I think that the real question before us is, what do we do now? How do we try to persuade or require this president to change course?

I can only hope that he will not veto it. And I can only end by saying that if this president does not get us out of Iraq, when I am president, I will.

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Part of our challenge is to put together the political support throughout the country, particularly within the Republican Party, to join with us to bring an end to this war.

We are in the middle of a multisided, sectarian civil war. And we are doing everything we can to begin to move us out. And we need Republican support to finish the job.

I supported President Bush when he went after al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. And then when he decided to divert attention to Iraq, it was not a decision that I would have made, had I been president, because we still haven't found Bin Laden. So let's focus on those who have attacked us and do everything we can to destroy them.

New Hampshire Debate, June 3, 2007 

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I thought the best way to support our troops was to try to send a very strong message that they should begin to come home. That is the best way to support them. And I thought that vote was an opportunity to do so.

Everybody on this stage, we are all united, Wolf. We all believe that we need to try to end this war. Each of us is trying in our own way to bring the war to an end.

I think it's important particularly to point out, this is George Bush's war. He is responsible for this war. He started the war. He mismanaged the war. He escalated the war. And he refuses to end the war. And what we are trying to do, whether it's by speaking out from the outside or working and casting votes that actually make a difference from the inside, we are trying to end the war.

I asked them if it would help to have a high-level presidential envoy working with both of them to try to figure out how we can move toward what are American interests and how we can keep Pakistan from undermining the war against the Taliban and al-Qaida. Unfortunately, when I got back and I called the White House and I made this suggestion, it fell on deaf ears.

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CNN/YouTube Debate, July 23, 2007 

Since the election of 2006, the Democrats have tried repeatedly to win Republican support with a simple proposition that we need to set a timeline to begin bringing our troops home now.

I happen to agree that there is no military solution, and the Iraqis refuse to pursue the political solutions. In fact, I asked the Pentagon a simple question: Have you prepared for withdrawing our troops? In response, I got a letter accusing me of being unpatriotic, that I shouldn't be asking questions.

I have done extensive work on this. And the best estimate is that we can probably move a brigade a month, if we really accelerate it, maybe a brigade and a half or two a month. That is a lot of months. My point is, they're not even planning for that in the Pentagon. You know, Mr. Berry, I am so sorry about the loss of your son. And I hope to goodness your youngest son doesn't face anything like that. But until we get this president and the Pentagon to begin to at least tell us they are planning to withdraw, we are not going to be able to turn this around.

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We want to begin moving the troops out, but we want to do so safely, and orderly, and carefully. We don't want more loss of American life and Iraqi life as we attempt to withdraw, and it is time for us to admit that it's going to be complicated.

AFL-CIO Debate, Aug. 7, 2007 

I have a three-point plan to get out of Iraq, starting with redeploying our troops, but doing it responsibly and carefully, because, as many of the veterans in this audience know, taking troops out can be just as dangerous as bringing them in. And we've got to get out of Iraq smarter than we got in. Secondly, we've got to put more pressure on the Iraqi government, including withholding aid from them if they don't begin to stabilize the country themselves. And thirdly, we need an intensive diplomatic effort, regionally and internationally. But if it is a possibility that al- Qaida would stay in Iraq, I think we need to stay focused on trying to keep them on the run, as we currently are doing in Al Anbar province.

This is George Bush's war. He rushed us to war, he has mismanaged the war. But these are our sons and daughters who are serving in this war, and I had to think very long and hard, because clearly I do not want to do anything that undercuts our support for them.

Sen. Chris Dodd
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Sen. Chris Dodd  

South Carolina Debate, April 26, 2007

I don't think the stakes have ever been higher for us as a country. We're more vulnerable today. We're far less secure. We're more isolated in the world as a result of this policy. This is a failed policy.

We need to understand that we've got to move beyond this policy. We need bolder, experienced leadership that will take us in a different direction.

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I'm proud to support the Feingold-Reid legislation, which does exactly as you've described it. It would impart an end date, begin immediately—an end date at the end of next March.

[The Iraqis] now have to assume the responsibility of their own future. We've given them that opportunity.

I then believe, also, that we need to engage in the robust diplomacy that we haven't been engaged in. This administration treats diplomacy as if it were a gift to our opponents; a sign of weakness, not a sign of strength.

Stateless terrorism is a multinational problem. It's a tactic. It requires a multinational response. This administration has walked away from that. The very institutions we need to build to have us effectively engage and fight back against terrorism, this administration seems to take the other track and move in another direction.

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New Hampshire Debate, June 3, 2007

It seems to me then it's incumbent upon us—given the fact that we are less safe, less secure, more vulnerable, weaker today, not stronger as a result of this policy—that we ought to try to bring it to a close. So, I thought the right thing to do was to pursue and push this issue of having a date certain or [of having] it tied to funding.

CNN/YouTube Debate, July 23, 2007

It has been said from the very beginning: There is no military solution to this civil war in Iraq. I think it's incumbent upon the Congress.

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Iraq is related to Darfur. It's because we're bogged down there at $10 billion a month, we've lost our moral leadership in the world. No one listens to us when it comes to foreign policy. That has to change in this country.

I have advocated, again, that we have our troops out by April of next year. I believe that the time frame is appropriate to do that. I would urge simultaneously that we do the things we've talked about here, and that is pursue the diplomatic efforts in the region to at least provide Iraq the opportunity to get on its feet. But I believe our military ought to be out before that.

If I'm president in January, I'd be advocating a responsible withdrawal that's safe for our troops who are there, to provide the resources for them to do it.

AFL-CIO Debate, Aug. 7, 2007

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I happen to believe that putting our country back to work begins by cutting the funding for the war in Iraq. Spending $12 billion every month, spending $2 billion every week, has got to stop if we're going to have a different set of priorities in our country.

[The troops] haven't failed; the policy has.

I believe, and have led on this over the last number of months here, to begin redeploying immediately. We can do so with two and a half divisions coming out each month, done safely and reasonably well. We then need to have a robust approach on diplomacy. This administration has treated statecraft and diplomacy as if it were a gift to our opponents, a sign of weakness.

To make a difference around the world, we shouldn't be selling arms to Saudi Arabia while they're refusing to support us in Iraq.

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We need to have a clear message to everybody in the region that we want them to be part of the solution.

I've spent 26 years on the foreign relations committee dealing with these matters here on almost every major foreign policy debate; words mean things. We've got to be very careful about language that's used in terms of the danger and harm it can do to our nation.

I've certainly said I made a mistake in that vote in 2002. I don't deny that.

I happen to believe that we're not safer today, even though we have not had an attack on our own soil. Tell that to the people in Iraq, tell that to the people in Afghanistan, tell that to the people around the world. Terrorism's a real issue. It's going to require a collective effort on behalf of our nation working with others to make a difference. Terrorism is a tactic, it's not a philosophy, and it's going to require an inordinate amount of cooperation to solve that. Having the kind of first responders at home like the firefighters and police and EMS services that have the tools and the ability to stand up and defend our country has not been funded.

Sen. John Edwards
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Sen. John Edwards  

South Carolina Debate, April 26, 2007

Sen. Obama spoke just a minute ago about the White House, agreeing that the parliament, the Iraqi parliament, could take a monthlong vacation because it was too hot, while our men and women are putting their lives on the line every day. Here's my question: While the Iraqi parliament is on vacation, is George Bush going to be on vacation in Crawford, Texas? What we need to do is turn up the heat on George Bush and hold him responsible and make this president change course. 

New Hampshire Debate, June 3, 2007

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I reject this bumper sticker, Wolf. And that's exactly what [the war on terror] is. It's a bumper sticker. As president of the United States, I will do absolutely everything to find terrorists where they are, to stop them before they can do harm to us, before they can do harm to America or to its allies. Every tool available—military alliances, intelligence—I will use.

What this global war on terror bumper sticker—political slogan, that's all it is, all it's ever been—was intended to do was for George Bush to use it to justify everything he does: the ongoing war in Iraq, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, spying on Americans, torture. None of those things are OK. They are not the United States of America.

I said throughout the lead-up to this vote that I was against a funding bill that did not have a timetable for withdrawal, that it was critical for the Congress to stand firm.

There is a difference between leadership and legislating.

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I don't think Sen. Clinton was, but I was on the intelligence committee. I received direct information from that. I met with former high-level people in the Clinton administration who gave me additional information. And I read the summary of the NIE. I think I had the information I needed. I don't think that was the question. I think one difference we do have is, I think I was wrong. I should never have voted for this war. And this goes to the issue that Sen. Obama raised a few minutes ago. He deserves credit for being against this war from the beginning. He was right. I was wrong. 

AFL-CIO Debate, Aug.t 7, 2007

As president, I'd draw 40 to 50,000 troops out today. I would engage the Iraqi government and the Sunni leadership, the Sunni and Shi'a leadership, into trying to reach some kind of political reconciliation. Because without that, there cannot be security in Iraq. And then we need to make a serious, intense diplomatic effort to bring the Iranians and the Syrians and the others in the region into helping provide stability in Iraq.

We have to prepare for the possibility, which George Bush has never done, that things may actually go bad. That means we've got to be prepared to control a civil war if it starts to spill outside the borders of Iraq. And we have to be prepared for the worst possibility that you never hear anyone talking about, which is the possibility that genocide breaks out and the Shi'a try to systematically eliminate the Sunni. As president of the United States, I would plan and prepare for all those possibilities.

Sen. Mike Gravel
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Sen. Mike Gravel  

South Carolina Debate, April 26, 2007

Well, first off, understand that this war was lost the day that George Bush invaded Iraq on a fraudulent basis. Understand that. Now with respect to what's going on in the Congress, I'm really embarrassed.

You pass the law, not a resolution, a law making it a felony to stay there. And I'll give you the text of it. If you're worried about filibuster, here's what you do tactically. They can pass it in the House. We've got the votes there. In the Senate, let them filibuster it. And let Reid call up every—at 12:00 every day to have a cloture vote. And let the American people see clearly who's keeping the war going and who's not.

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I got to tell you, I'm president of the United States, there will be no pre-emptive wars with nuclear devices. To my mind, it's immoral, and it's been immoral for the last 50 years as part of American foreign policy.

You want to—you want to tell the Iraqis how to run their country. I got to tell you, we should just plain get out—just plain get out. It's their country. They're asking us to leave. And we insist on staying there. And why not get out? What harm is it going to do? Oh, you hear the statement, "Well, my God, these soldiers will have died in vain." The entire deaths of Vietnam died in vain. And they're dying in vain right this very second. And you know what's worse than a soldier dying in vain? It's more soldiers dying in vain. That's what's worse.

New Hampshire Debate, June 3, 2007

Four of these people here will say that it's George Bush's war. It was facilitated by the Democrats. They brought the resolution up. One of them authored, co-authored it here, standing here. And so it's—sure, it's George Bush's war. But it's the Democrats' war also.

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Now that you want to end it, you're concerned about what's going to happen after we withdraw. Remember Vietnam. All the dominoes are going to fall. Southeast Asia's going to go—is going to go Communist. Well, how do we know what will happen? I do know this, that the insurgency is successful because the population sustains that insurgency, period.

More Americans died because of their decision. That disqualifies them for president. It doesn't mean they're bad people. It just means that they don't have moral judgment. And that's very important when you become president.

Washington, D.C., Debate, June 28, 2007

Twenty-one million Americans could have a four-year college scholarship for the money we've squandered in Iraq—7.6 million teachers could have been hired last year if we weren't squandering this money.

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CNN/YouTube Debate, July 23, 2007

What are they dying for right now in Iraq every single day? Let me tell you: There's only one thing worse than a soldier dying in vain—it's more soldiers dying in vain.

George Bush's oil war was a mistake. We need to stop killing Americans and Iraqis. Been around since the beginning of time. It's not a war. It should be a police action based on global intelligence. It's the most serious problem facing humanity today. A universal voucher system will provide equal treatment and choice of providers. The Congress has to stop raiding the surplus.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich

Rep. Dennis Kucinich  

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South Carolina Debate, April 26, 2007

I think it's inconsistent to tell the American people that you oppose the war and, yet, you continue to vote to fund the war. Because every time you vote to fund the war, you're reauthorizing the war all over again.

The Democrats have the power to end the war right now, and that's what we should do. They were under no obligation to give George Bush any money at all. The money's in the pipeline to bring the troops home. And that's exactly what ought to be done, at this moment.

I have a plan, H.R. 1234, a plan to end the war in Iraq, which calls on the international community to provide peacekeepers and security forces that will move in as our troops leave. But we can't do that until we determine we're going to end the occupation. And we will do that when we stop the funding.

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I made the choice not to go to war.

I think when people understand not only that I opposed the war from the start, but I opposed the idea of using war as a matter of policy. I don't think it reflects America's greatness.

When my good friends were called upon to make a decision and then made the wrong decision.

Apologies aren't enough, because we've had 3,333 Americans die. Perhaps as many as over 650,000 innocent Iraqis die. People are looking for a president who has the wisdom to make the right choices about America's security and who also has the integrity to be able to take a stand that may be unpopular.

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The fact of the matter is that the global war on terror has been a pretext for aggressive war. As president of the United States, I intend to take America in a different direction, rejecting war as an instrument of policy, reconnecting with the nations of the world, so that we can address the real issues that affect security all over the globe and affect our security at home.

We're in Iraq for oil. We're looking at attacking Iran for oil.

New Hampshire Debate, June 3, 2007

This war has been based on lies. And we could have a productive evening here right now if all of my colleagues on this stage or in the Congress would commit to telling the Democratic leadership not even to offer a funding bill, because that's really the way to end the war, Wolf. Just say, no money. The war is over. You want to end it? Bring them home. Stop the funding. And this is where Sen. Clinton says, well, this is George Bush's war. Oh, no. There's a teachable moment here. And the teachable moment is that this war belongs to the Democratic Party because the Democrats were put in charge by the people in the last election with the thought that they were going to end the war.

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The money's in the pipeline right now, enough to bring the troops home. Let's end the war and let's make this a productive evening.

This country has to end its occupation of Iraq. And as I mentioned earlier, the Congress, the Democratic Congress, has a very serious responsibility in this regard. We should simply not provide any bill at all. It's one thing to say you don't have the votes. It's another thing not to even offer a bill and tell the president he has the money now that's in the pipeline to bring the troops home.

His war has degraded our service ability, and we need to have certainly a strong Army, but I believe that peace is the way we reflect our strength. So, I want to see an American military that will be a strong peacekeeping force, not one that is being misused, like the one in this administration misuses our military.

I don't think that a president of the United States who believes in peace and who wants to create peace in the world is going to be using assassination as a tool. Because when you do that, it comes back at your country. And I think that Osama Bin Laden, if he's still alive, ought to be held to account in an international court of law. And so should any other person who's been involved in a violation of international law which has resulted in the deaths of many people.

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An America that stands for peace is a strong country.

Washington, D.C., Debate, June 28, 2007

We have to remember that with a nation right now that will spend anywhere from $1 [trillion] to $2 trillion on this war, that is money out of the educational lives of our children. We need to remember the connection.

CNN/ YouTube Debate, July 23, 2007

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I believed in duty and honor, and I think it's important to have those commitments to this country. And so I say we achieve strength through peace. That's the new doctrine that I'm going to promote throughout this campaign; that we'll use the science of human relations and diplomacy; that we pursue an approach which says that you can use international agreements and treaties; and that you can work to settle your differences without committing the young men and women to war, unless it's absolutely necessary.

The answer to your question, ma'am, is: Yes, it is politics. The Democrats have failed the American people. When we took over in January, the American people didn't expect us to give them a Democratic version of the war. They expected us to act quickly to end the war.

Here's how we can do it. It doesn't take legislation. That's a phony excuse to say that you don't have the votes. We appropriated $97 billion a month ago. We should tell President Bush, no more funds for the war, use that money to bring the troops home, use it to bring the troops home.

I've been very clear: six months, but no residual forces.

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Our troops have become targets.

The diplomatic work cannot begin to heal Iraq, to protect our interests, without troops out. Our troops have become targets. You are going to say six months, because it might provoke a civil war. There is a civil war. There is sectarian conflict. The time has come, and I get challenged. I have no troops left. One hundred are dying a month.

The underlying assumption here is that we're going to be in Iraq until the next president takes office, and I reject that totally. People can send a message to Congress right now.

I introduced a plan four years ago, Anderson, that was a full plan to remove our troops. I'm the only one on this stage—excuse me—who not only voted against this war, but voted against funding the war.

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I think that the reason is that if you support, for example, in Iraq, if you say that Iraq should privatize its oil for the U.S. oil companies, then what you're doing is, you're continuing a commitment to use more oil. If you believe that all options should be put on the table with respect to Iran, that's about oil.

AFL-CIO Debate, Aug. 7, 2007

We need to get out of Iraq and get out of Iraq now, and I have a plan to do just that. Congress—the Democratic Congress—has the ability to tell President Bush, you got $97 billion six weeks ago, use that money to bring the troops home and set in motion an international security and peacekeeping force that would stabilize Iraq. I'm the only one here on the stage who had the vision and the foresight to not only vote against the war but also vote against funding for the war.

I'm working all the time to try to get the Democrats to keep that promise to bring our troops home. I've been there for every single piece of legislation—health care, retirement security, jobs—and I'm going to be there to keep pushing the envelope to get us out of Iraq, and we shouldn't have to wait for a Democratic president to do it. 

Sen. Barack Obama
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Sen. Barack Obama  

South Carolina Debate, April 26, 2007 

I am proud that I opposed this war from the start, because I thought that it would lead to the disastrous conditions that we've seen on the ground in Iraq. What I've also said is, if we're going to send hundreds of thousands of our young men and women there, then they have to have the night-vision goggles, the Humvees that are reinforced, and the other equipment that they need to make sure that they come home safely.

The American people have said, Republicans and Democrats, that it's time to end this war. When I listen to mothers and fathers all across the country, they are telling me it's time for us to come home.

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I'm proud of the fact that I put forward a plan in January that mirrors what Congress ultimately adopted. It says there's no military solution to this. We've got to have a political solution, begin a phased withdrawal, and make certain that we've got benchmarks in place so that the Iraqi people can make a determination about how they want to move forward.

We have seen our Army and our Reserves and our National Guard all being stretched to a breaking point. That's one of the reasons why I proposed that we're going to have to increase the size of our ground forces, so we can stop the sort of rotations that we've been placing them on, which have been putting enormous strain not only on the soldiers themselves, but also their families.

We are one vote away, if the president is not going to sign the bill that has been sent to him, then what we have to do is gather up 16 votes in order to override his veto.

New Hampshire Debate, June 3, 2007

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Primarily because of this war in Iraq, a war that I think should have never been authorized or waged, what we've seen is a distraction from the battle to deal with al-Qaida in Afghanistan. We have created an entire new recruitment network in Iraq that we're seeing them send folks to Lebanon and Jordan and other areas of the region. And so one of the things that I think is critical as the next president is to make absolutely certain that we not only phase out the war in Iraq, but we also focus on the critical battle that we have in Afghanistan and rout out al-Qaida.

The effort in Iraq has greatly weakened our efforts there.

The best way for us to support the troops is to ensure that we are not continuing to try to impose a military solution on what is essentially a political problem in Iraq. And that's why I put forward a bill that would begin a phased redeployment and have all our troops out by March 31st of next year.

I don't believe in assassinations, but Osama Bin Laden has declared war on us, killed 3,000 people, and under existing law, including international law, when you've got a military target like Bin Laden, you take him out. And if you have 20 minutes, you do it swiftly and surely.

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Our presence in Iraq is weakening our capacity to deal with these issues and fanning anti-American sentiment in such a way that it makes it more difficult for Musharraf to work with us effectively.

CNN/YouTube Debate, July 23, 2007

I opposed this war from the start. Because I anticipated that we would be creating the kind of sectarian violence that we've seen and that it would distract us from the war on terror.

At this point, I think we can be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. But we have to send a clear message to the Iraqi government as well as to the surrounding neighbors that there is no military solution to the problems that we face in Iraq. We just heard a White House spokesman, Tony Snow, excuse the fact that the Iraqi legislature went on vacation for three weeks because it's hot in Baghdad. Well, let me tell you: It is hot for American troops who are over there with 100 pounds' worth of gear.

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Our soldiers have done everything that's been asked of them. They deposed Saddam Hussein. They have carried out extraordinarily difficult missions with great courage and great bravery. That is something that too many of us failed to do. And I do think that that is something that both Republicans and Democrats have to take responsibility for.

When I am president of the United States, when I send our troops into battle, I am going to be absolutely sure that it is based on sound intelligence, and I'm going to tell the truth to the American people, as well as the families who are being asked to sacrifice.

AFL-CIO Debate, Aug. 7, 2007

I don't believe that we are safer now than we were after 9/11 because we have made a series of terrible decisions in our foreign policy. We went into Iraq, a war that we should have never authorized and should not have been waged. It has fanned the flames of anti-American sentiment. It has, more importantly, allowed us to neglect the situation in Afghanistan. We know right now, according to the National Intelligence Estimate, that al-Qaida is hiding in the hills between Afghanistan and Pakistan. And because we have taken our eye off the ball, they are stronger now than any time since 2001.

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As president, I want us to fight on the right battlefield, and what that means is getting out of Iraq and refocusing our attention on the war that can be won in Afghanistan. And that also will allow us to free up the kinds of resources that will make us safer here at home because we'll be able to invest in port security, chemical plant security, all the critical issues that have already been discussed.

Well, look, if we had followed my judgment originally, we wouldn't have been in Iraq. We're here now. And we've got no good options. We've got bad options and worse options.

It is my strong belief—and I introduced legislation back in January—that the only way we're going to stabilize Iraq and make sure that al-Qaida does not take over in the long term is to begin a phased redeployment so that we don't have anti-American sentiment as a focal point for al-Qaida in Iraq. We can still have troops in the region, outside of Iraq, that can help on counterterrorism activities, and we've got to make sure that they don't establish long-term bases there. But right now, the bases are in Afghanistan and in the hills between Afghanistan and Pakistan; that's where we've got to focus.

We have convinced some people, including some folks on this stage, that this was a mistake, and that it was important for us to start drawing troops down. But apparently we had not convinced enough Republicans, and at that point, it was my belief that the only way we could send a strong signal to the president to make sure that he came back to the table was to vote no on that supplemental.

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I find it amusing that those who helped to authorize and engineer the biggest foreign policy disaster in our generation are now criticizing me for making sure that we are on the right battlefield and not the wrong battlefield in the war against terrorism. 

Gov. Bill Richardson

Gov. Bill Richardson

South Carolina Debate, April 26, 2007 

Let me be very clear about my position. This war is a disaster. We must end this war.

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This is what I would do if were president today. I would withdraw all of our troops, including residual troops, by the end of this calendar year. I would use the leverage of that withdrawal, coupled with intensive diplomacy in three areas. One, a political framework led by the United States where the three religious entities in Iraq have a coalition government, divide oil revenues and possibly set up three separate entities. No. 2, I would convene a security conference, and I would invite Iran and Syria. We have to have an international peacekeeping effort. Thirdly, I would have a donor conference. I would have other countries take over the reconstruction responsibility and the security of Iraq.

New Hampshire Debate, June 3, 2007

I've spent a lot of time in this region. I was U.N. ambassador. Eighty percent of my time was spent on the Iraq issue. I've talked to the leaders there.

There is a fundamental difference between my position and the position of my good friends here. I believe that it's a civil war. I believe that there is sectarian conflict already. There is enormous turmoil.

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I would keep troops in Kuwait, where they are wanted. I would move them to Afghanistan to fight al-Qaida. But I believe that our troops have become a target. Our troops right now have done a magnificent job.

All of these resolutions, the funding—supplemental appropriation on funding, on issues relating to timetables—is not working because the president is vetoing.

CNN/ YouTube Debate, July 23, 2007

There's a big difference on Iraq between me and the senators, and here's where it is: The lives of our young troops are more important than George Bush's legacy. This is what I stand for: I believe we should bring all the troops home by the end of this year, in six months, with no residual forces—no residual forces. This is critically important. A hundred American troops are dying every month. And this war is a quagmire. It's endless.

The time has come to bring the troops home. No politics.

AFL-CIO Debate, Aug. 7, 2007

I believe that I would have the ability to bring this country together, to heal this country, to end the divisions after the Iraq war.