Coleman responded: “I will not tell the parents of any kid who has died in Iraq that their son died because of a mistake. I simply will not do that.” He said the surge in Iraq succeeded in allowing “the forces of moderation to triumph over extremism,” and that “failure isn’t an option” in the continued battle against terrorism.
KLOBUCHAR: I have never been one to say “Bring them all home tomorrow.” Despite my opposition to the war from the beginning, we have to be responsible about how we bring our troops home.
KENNEDY: She’s also come out against a bill funding body armor for our troops that a majority of Democrats join me in supporting.
KLOBUCHAR: Of course I support body armor for our troops, I support winning this war on terror by being smart. We need to transition to Iraqi governance, we need to send the clear message that they have to take control of their own government, and that means no permanent military bases. The congressman & I differ on this. This means not saying 2010 we’re going to have the same number of troops. We need to be more accountable for the help that we’re giving Iraq.
KLOBUCHAR: The best way that we can protect our troops is to get this policy right, and I believe that that means changing course in Iraq. Clearly, at this late date in mid-October, we can’t bring a significant number home. We have to be reasonable. I have never been one to say “Bring them all home tomorrow.” I have never subscribed to one of those mandatory dates, because I understand that, despite my opposition to the war from the beginning, that we have to be responsible about how we bring our troops home.
Q: So you’re saying now that’s probably not doable. What about a “vast majority in 2007,” which is what you said also?
KLOBUCHAR: These predictions were built on the promises and the predictions of progress from this administration, and we simply haven’t seen that. So you have to be reasonable in what you’re going to do here.
KENNEDY: Let’s talk about what the 16 agencies said. They said that we are clearly activating terrorists in Iraq, having taken the challenge to them. But they also said we have to prevail. If we don’t prevail, it will greatly mushroom this threat, let it grow in size, and come to face our future generations. They said that if we, if we lose, that’s what will happen; if we win, we will greatly degrade what’s happening on the other side.
A: We libertarians do not support intervention in Iran. We already cost the Iranian people a freer society when the American government supported the Iranian revolution.
BILLS: There's leeriness, there's a wariness of being there. What's the goal, what's the plan? We got Osama Bin Laden. At this point I would question the value of staying there without an end in sight. Many nations have tried that--from Alexander the Great to the Russians to the British. That's an area of the world that's very difficult. Again, how can we promote trade with them? How can we lift their country up?
KENNEDY: I said in February that we expected troops [to return home]. We have less troops, not as much [less] as I would like; we've run into tougher patches.
Q: Why can't you say you were wrong?
KENNEDY: I was wrong in the significant number, I was right in terms of the fact that there are less troops
"On the whole, the trend [in Iraq] is very positive. Our troops face a collection of terrorists and thugs, of whom there are fewer each day."That's just dead wrong.
KENNEDY: Were we potentially a bit optimistic? Possibly. And we've seen more challenges than we expected, no question. But if you look at what's happened, we have trained 300,000 Iraqi troops. We have a unity government.
Q: 10 months ago you said "Progress was clear, we're making great strides." Why shouldn't voters in Minnesota say, "Kennedy is wearing rose-colored glasses and saying, ‘Everything's fine. We're making progress.'"
KENNEDY: I never said everything's fine, but we are making progress.
Q: You said, "It's very positive"?
KENNEDY: Each year I go back to Iraq, I see a government that is further down the path of addressing serious issues. Their military is more fully developed and taking over more and more of the responsibilities for us.
KENNEDY: We acted on the information that we knew at the time.
Q: But knowing what you know today, would you still vote?
KENNEDY: You can't really play TiVo and rewind in the real world, but let me just say this: First of all, I stand by my vote. And second of all, we just got done talking about Korea. We just got done talking about consequences for actions. Seventeen UN resolutions. If we had let one of the top sponsors of terrorists, that was paying thousands of dollars to those families that had suicide bombers, if we had let 17 UN resolutions go by, what chance would we have of North Korea or China paying any attention to the resolution just passed yesterday?
Q: So you'd still go into Iraq?
KENNEDY: I stand by my vote. We can't rewind. We acted on the information we knew at the time and acted correctly.
KLOBUCHAR: I have never been one to say "Bring them all home tomorrow." We have to be responsible about how we bring our troops home.
KENNEDY: She's also come out against a bill funding body armor for our troops that a majority of Democrats join me in supporting. We have no higher priority than to support our troops in time of war, and we have to win this war on terror.
KLOBUCHAR: Of course I support body armor for our troops, I support winning this war on terror by being smart. We need to transition to Iraqi governance.
KENNEDY: I reject a specific timetable. At every stage along the way, we ought to say, "Is there adjustments we need to be making?' We have been making adjustments. Ms. Klobuchar says the solution is diplomatic and political; but you can't negotiate with people that are ruthless and glory in killing innocent women and children. We need to make sure that terrorists can't win so that we can bring our troops home as quickly as possible.
Q: No matter how long it takes?
KENNEDY: We need to make sure that the terrorists can't win. We cannot let Iraq became a sanctuary for terrorists.
Q: And you believe this war can be won militarily?
KENNEDY: There's no question that we need to also prod the political forces within Iraq, as we have been. But, these are steps that need to be pushed politically, but they can't be done if we're saying, "We're going to pull our troops away."
KLOBUCHAR: This is just more of the same. We need to change course.
KENNEDY: Let's talk about what the 16 agencies said. They said that we are clearly activating terrorists in Iraq, having taken the challenge to them. But they also said we have to prevail. If we don't prevail, it will greatly mushroom this threat, let it grow in size, and come to face our future generations. They said that if we, if we lose, that's what will happen; if we win, we will greatly degrade what's happening on the other side.
Coleman responded: "I will not tell the parents of any kid who has died in Iraq that their son died because of a mistake. I simply will not do that." He said the surge in Iraq succeeded in allowing "the forces of moderation to triumph over extremism," and that "failure isn't an option" in the continued battle against terrorism.
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