Candidate Reactions to Declassified National Intelligence Estimate On Iraq

NIE August 2007
Yesterday, the National Intelligence Council released previously classified portions of the National Intelligence Estimate On Iraq.

Below are the candidate reactions to this newly declassified information...

Barack Obama

In response to the declassification of the National Intelligence Estimate today, Barack Obama released the following statement, and proposed immediate reforms the United States should undertake to begin the withdrawal of our troops to put pressure on Iraq's leaders to resolve the political impasse at the heart of this civil war, and to ease the growing humanitarian crisis in the country.

"This National Intelligence Estimate underscores the fundamental truth that we cannot continue to substitute the bravery of our troops for a true commitment from the Iraqi government to resolve the grievances at the heart of their civil war, and a true commitment from the Administration to aggressive diplomacy" said Obama.

Obama believes the only solution to this civil war is political, not military, which is why he proposed and continues to urge a withdrawal of American forces engaged in combat that puts pressure on the Iraqi government to reach the political accommodations that will prevent further disaster. He also proposed specific steps to alleviate the urgent humanitarian crisis created by this war and warned of in the NIE. More than four million Iraqis have already been displaced, some two million into neighboring countries. An additional 50,000 Iraqis are fleeing their homes each month. This requires urgent action by the United States government and the international community, not a stay the course approach that puts the sole responsibility on our troops.

Obama proposes we:

* Responsibly redeploy our troops from Iraq by issuing a transparent time table for the planned withdrawal of our troops.

  • Aggressively surge the diplomacy required to press for a political solution within Iraq, and to keep neighboring countries from fomenting instability in Iraq.
  • Dramatically increase assistance to Iraq's two million displaced.
  • Dramatically increase assistance for refugees, including the more than 2 million in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt.
  • Fill the 7,000 asylum slots in the United States that the State Department pledged to fill earlier in the year. Political leadership will be required to expedite the department of homeland security's review of Iraqi asylum applicants. Thus far, this year, only 190 Iraqis have been allowed into the United States â€" an embarrassing number given the scope of the problem, and the fact that many Iraqis have risked their lives working with American forces in Iraq.
  • Appeal to those countries that were part of the Coalition in the Iraq war to expand their refugee quotas and to increase bilateral assistance to Iraq's neighbors who are carrying the refugee burden. Arab governments, especially US allies in the Gulf, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, should also be enlisted.
  • Ensure that our military and financial assistance to Iraqâ€<sup>TM</sup>s government and security forces is not being diverted to sectarian militias.
  • And make clear to the militia leaders and government officials in Iraq that the United States and the international community is going to catalogue and prepare to hold the perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide accountable for their crimes.

Chris Dodd
"The reported conclusions of the latest NIE are another sign that, even as American troops continue admirably to serve in Iraq, the Iraqi government has done virtually nothing to put its house in order. With no progress on political reconciliation between the various sects in Iraq, it is clear that President Bush's tactic of troop escalation has failed to achieve its goal of convincing Iraqi leaders that they must take bold steps to promote stability and reconciliation in Iraq. In fact the report confirms that Sunnis and Shia remain deeply suspicious of each other with no sign of reversing that belief anytime soon. Indeed, this report is further evidence that there is a disconnect between military operations to establish security in Iraq and elsewhere in the country and the willingness of an Iraqi political leadership to take advantage of improved security to promote political compromise and reconciliation on behalf of all Iraqis.

"I do not believe that Iraq's political leaders will have any incentive to demonstrate bold leadership and reach a political accord until we begin redeploying American troops and it is clear that finally they must fully assume responsibility for their country."

Hillary Clinton
"As I have said many times before, there is not a military solution in Iraq. Progress will only come from political reconciliation and compromise from the Iraqis themselves. In January, President Bush argued that the escalation of U.S. troops into Iraq would create the political space for reconciliation among the Iraqis. At the time that the President announced the escalation, I opposed this new strategy because I did not believe the Iraqi government was committed to making the tough political decisions necessary for Iraq to resolve its sectarian divisions. Indeed, the declassified key judgments from the most recent National Intelligence Estimate regarding "Prospects for Iraq's Stability" clearly demonstrate that progress toward political reconciliation in Iraq has not been achieved since the beginning of the President's decision to add additional troops into Iraq. The NIE's key judgments provide additional evidence that the President's escalation strategy has failed. We need to stop refereeing this civil war, and start getting out now."

Joe Biden
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) issued the following statement today after key judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) were released to the public:

"The unclassified "Key Judgments" of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq underscore the fatally flawed premise of President Bush's Iraq policy - that surging American troops will buy more time for the central government to succeed.  As the NIE makes clear, "Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively" and "broadly accepted political compromises required for sustained security, long term political progress and economic development are unlikely to emerge unless there is a fundamental shift in the factors driving Iraqi political and security developments." Absent an occupation that the U.S. cannot sustain or the return of a dictator which we do not want, Iraq cannot be governed from the center.  We need to stop the surge and start to get our troops out, while separating the warring factions and supporting the emergence of a decentralized, federal Iraq that gives each group control over their daily lives. That's what the Iraqi Constitution calls for.  And that's the only way to leave Iraq without trading a dictator for chaos and setting back our national security interests for a generation."

John Edwards
Senator John Edwards released the following statement about today's new National Intelligence Estimate report on Iraq.

"As today's new National Intelligence Estimate reveals, the violence in Iraq remains high, attempts to reconcile the political factions have failed, and the political leaders remain 'unable to govern effectively.'

"It is more obvious now than ever before that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is not doing a good enough job leading his country. Job performance matters in a democracy. Iraqis should replace al-Maliki with a leader more capable of unifying the country's warring factions and achieving the political solution that will stabilize Iraq. However, American policymakers must focus on comprehensive solutions, not individual band-aids. And they must avoid the conventional Washington-style decisions that created the Iraq mess in the first place.

"We need bold change and real solutions in Iraq, not more of the same. The fact is that just switching one leader for another, when the country is in a state of turmoil, will not alone solve the problems there. Even worse, if individuals become the focus, our approach will become less comprehensive, more ad hoc, and possibly more likely to fail. The entire Iraqi government is failing its responsibility to bring about a political solution to end the sectarian violence that is plaguing Iraq. Unfortunately, as long as President Bush pursues his failed military strategy, Iraqi leaders have a ready excuse to avoid responsibility. We need to force them to take responsibility, and the best way to do that is to leave.

"I am the only candidate to call for an immediate withdrawal of 40,000 to 50,000 troops, to jump-start all parties to let go of the crutch of the American military and start working on a real countrywide political solution. Congress also must have complete information about a political solution well in advance of the end of October, when they will again have the opportunity to use their Constitutional funding power to force the president to change course.

"I am also calling today for an immediate diplomatic offensive from the Bush Administration. This 'diplomatic surge' must begin with an 'Iraqi Stability Conference' that would include high-level meetings by American and allied diplomats with all leading Iraqi Parliamentarians, sectarian leaders, the governments of both Iran and Syria, and leaders in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, and Kuwait. These meetings should be aimed at real commitments of how these parties will contribute to a long-term comprehensive plan to stabilize the country."

Should any additional comments be made regarding the NIE, we will add them immediately.

There's more...

John Edwards: I'm a Populist and Clinton is a Corporate Democrat

[Re-published from]

John Edwards is giving what he calls a major speech today in New Hampshire. It's not a major speech because he's unveiling a policy or declaring his entry into the race, or unveiling some previously unknown fact about himself... it's a major speech solely because he's starting to include new attacks on Democrats into his stump speech.

Here's an excerpt from his speech:

Instead of serving the people and the nation, too many play the parlor game of Washington -- trading favors and campaign money, influencing votes and compromising legislation. It's a game that never ends, but every American knows -- it's time to end the game.

And it's time for the Democratic Party -- the party of the people -- to end it.

The choice for our party could not be more clear. We cannot replace a group of corporate Republicans with a group of corporate Democrats, just swapping the Washington insiders of one party for the Washington insiders of the other.

The American people deserve to know that their presidency is not for sale, the Lincoln Bedroom is not for rent, and lobbyist money can no longer influence policy in the House or the Senate.

It's time to end the game. It's time to tell the big corporations and the lobbyists who have been running things for too long that their time is over. It's time to challenge politicians to put the American people's interests ahead of their own calculated political interests, to look the lobbyists in the eye and just say no.

I was going to quote more, but that is sufficient to get my point across, that Edwards is certainly painting Clinton as a 'corporate Democrat' without actually saying so.

In an interview with the AP, Edwards seemed to go after Obama as well as Clinton with this comment:

"I don't think just the word 'change' means much to people. I think what they want to see is ... the substance of what you want to do. I mean, what is the policy of the word?" Edwards said. "In my case, it's been a very aggressive set of very substantive ideas ... because otherwise the change rhetoric all sounds the same."

As Jon Stewart noted yesterday in his discussion with Barack Obama, the current narrative on the campaign is Barack Obama's  inexperience versus Hillary Clinton's experience. The person most hurt by this is probably Edwards, who has desparately tried to stay in the top tier.

This has involved repeatedly attacking the Obama and Clinton campaigns. (I've mentioned that here, here, and here).

Even yesterday, Elizabeth Edwards said the attacks were a way of getting in "the mix" (my emphasis):

Asked about her comment that, "We can't make John (Edwards) black and we can't make him a woman," Elizabeth Edwards responded: "I do hate to use that. It's taken out of context. I was talking about the Internet and trying to break through on mainstream media, and how, when the mainstream media are enamored, and frankly, if I were a journalist, I might be, too, with this extremely interesting fight between an African-American and a woman. It's a little hard to get into the mix of that, even if you have great policies and a lot of support around the country, (it's) still hard to get into that mix. So we have turned -- because we can't do anything about that dynamic, we've turned to try to communicate directly with people through the Internet and -- no offense -- not allowed the mainstream media to be a sieve that blocks John's message."

She's framing the issue as just her sighing and saying something in a matter of fact fashion, but for every harmless comment about not making Edwards black or a woman, there have been dozens of attacks, which have generally escalated to the point where Edwards is taking Republican talking points.

It's not a matter of Edwards being right or wrong. It's a matter of him being so aggressive in his attacks that to anyone not out for Clinton's blood, Clinton looks like the victim (and it has little if anything to do with Clinton being a woman: it's more Edwards lifting GOP attacks on both of the Clintons and using them verbatim). Edwards says he is optimistic but his tone would best be described as combative. Obama is the optimistic one who talks of bringing the country together.

For all the big talk I'm going to refer to below about this being some watershed speech, does Edwards really say anything that Dennis Kucinich would not? Edwards is running into the same problem that he's run into the rest of the campaign - that he's Kucinich-lite. He's counting on restricting his appeal but raising turnout.

Clinton could best be described as the establishment candidate. Obama is the candidate who wants to bring America together. Edwards is trying to frame himself as the populist speaking truth to power but I fail to see how this will do anything but rile up Edwards supporters online. He's giving the speech in New Hampshire, and there's really no history of that state supporting such strong populism. This really seems a culmination of a candidacy trending the wrong direction in the polls, where Edwards had a meeting where everyone decided to go for broke. That I applaud - it's the right decision. But going beyond the issues to make such strong attacks politically is really a poor long term strategy. The policy differences he talks about are going to be drowned out by the politics of a personal attack.

It's not surprising though, given that there's a significant gap until the next Democratic debate that Edwards chose now to launch the attack, even if its in August. He likely wants the attacks to linger before a direct confrontation, and also saw in the last debate hard proof that the indirect method was going nowhere. Of course, he never mentions Clinton by name in this speech, so in many ways its still an indirect attack.

Of course, it has to be noted that this speech comes in the wake of everyone realizing the Edwards campaign is going in the wrong direction (but never acknowledging it). This Washington Post article is about youth abandoning Edwards for Clinton and Obama. The biggest hit is an article today in the Raleigh News and Observer about his campaign being unable to gain traction:

Edwards' troubles have prompted him to move more of his chips in the Iowa caucus basket -- which is increasingly shaping up as the decisive test of whether he will be a serious contender this time.

The Edwards camp says that the problems of summer will be forgotten by the time voters go the polls in January and that the former North Carolina senator will be in the hunt for the nomination.

"John has always had his own plan," said Ed Turlington, a Raleigh attorney and Edwards adviser. "As I look at it, as we approach Labor Day -- he has adequate money, substantive policy, and good [poll] tracking. I think he is on track.

"The goal is to get in the last two minutes with a chance to win. He is one of only a handful of candidates who will have a chance to win."

It's clear that just about his entire campaign is dependent on Iowa:
Most observers agree that if Edwards does not win Iowa, he is politically dead -- a point that Edwards has come close to acknowledging himself.

Edwards, who is beginning a four-day bus tour of New Hampshire today, is counting on some labor endorsements in September to provide some much-needed momentum.

He also has other selling points for Democratic primary voters. He has released some of the most detailed plans on such issues as health insurance. Edwards has consistently done better than Clinton in head-to-head polling matchups with prospective Republican candidates, allowing him to make the electability argument to Democrats desperate to win back the White House.

"I would love to see people, especially the press and the TV, to focus on electability and how important that is," said Byrd, the Edwards fundraiser. "We Democrats have figured out how to mess this up enough."

The Edwards argument is that things are better than they look. Even skeptics agree that Edwards is in a better position than more seasoned Democrats such as New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware and Chris Dodd of Connecticut.

Edwards seems to be making the point in his speech that its a historic opportunity to enact populist reforms. But do a majority of Democrats agree? Clinton talks about knowing how to win, and having lost the White House for 8 years, many Democrats simply want to win. Additionally, Obama also talks about electability. The problem for Edwards was and is his image and his fundraising. This may get more money out of the internet left, but does this speech change anything else? I'm betting on no.

I also should note that Edwards apparent distrust of Clinton did not prevent himfrom asking her to help him make the debates more exclusive, before he backed off that.

Here are some other takes on the speech:

TPM Election Cafe says:

Edwards' indictment of the corporate Dem establishment -- and his warning against "nostalgia" -- is meant to be taken as an attack on the Clintons, though it's certainly not limited to them and is intended as condemnation of a whole class of Beltway insiders. .....

The quick and not terribly profound thing I want to point out about this is that it's interesting to note that both Barack Obama and Edwards are using Hillary as a foil in similar but also different ways. Obama is pointing to her as a pillar of the failed Beltway foreign policy establishment that has brought us a failed foreign policy status quo. Meanwhile, Edwards is hitting her as representative of what he's labeling the corporate Dem establishment.

Marc Ambinder simply asks:
When was the last time a major presidential candidate delivered such a singularly populist speech?

Ambinder also points out regarding the Lincoln Bedroom line:
Note: Rick Lazio used a version of this critique -- it didn't work. Democrats do not believe that Hillary Clinton is corrupt.

Matthew Yglesias states:
There's much more to the speech, read the whole thing. The word "populism" gets tossed around a lot in politics, especially over the past five or six years, but in this speech Edwards is really living up to the term in a way most things that get labeled that way don't by explicitly connecting his critique of the economic status quo to a vision of a democratic economy: "Will corporate greed be all we value as we move further into the global economy, or will we put workers and families first, so that all jobs pay fair wages, every American has health care and corporate profits work for democracy and not the other way around?"

I think it's a very strong speech. A lot of primary voters seem to me to want a more strictly partisan message than this, but I prefer the more properly ideological note that Edwards is striking here, trying to convince us that the crisis of Bushism is also an opportunity for sweeping change that we need to seize.

Amanda Dobbins criticized Edwards for referring to the Lincoln Bedroom:
Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards gave a speech in New Hampshire today, targeting "establishment elites" and repeating his call to remove lobbyists' money from the political process. The speech lambasted "the way we've always done it" and attempted to position Edwards as the candidate of change.

Unfortunately for Edwards, his language isn't as updated as his campaign platform. Edwards told the audience that "the American people deserve to know that their presidency is not for sale, the Lincoln Bedroom is not for rent." He's not the only politician who's promised to close that particular room in the White House. The Lincoln bedroom is a recurring political reference:

She would go on to reference Dole, McCain, Quayle, and even George W. Bush who made attacks on the Clintons almost verbatim the same.

Taylor Marsh uses many of the same references, saying:

They [NBC News talking about Edwards -ed] just left out the Clinton money quote Edwards used today, which is straight out of the right-wing playbook. There are plenty of ways to come at Clinton on the issues, especially Iraq. But if this is the Edwards re-launch, I hope it makes a turn into better territory. Because between Obama's "Bush-Cheney lite" and Edwards talking about "The Lincoln Bedroom is not for rent," I've got to say that these guys sound positively desperate.

Michael Froomkin likes the speech, but still sees problems in the Edwards campaign left unaddressed:
Unfortunately, I am not as impressed by the John Edwards campaign organization as I would need to be to feel optimistic about his chances of winning the nomination given that he's running third in fund-raising. Clinton has a machine. Obama has a press and (slightly diminished?) public vibe. Edwards has passion. And a platform. But passion (not to mention a platform) won't make up for money unless you have a really good organization. And while they're a lot better than they were six months ago, and have some great instincts (e.g. their web presence, and unleashing Elizabeth Edwards), it's going to take both luck and still-better command of the fundamentals of campaigning to make it happen.

The discussion at MyDD and Daily Kos seems split along the lines of what candidate someone is supporting, although in both cases generally supportive of the gist of the speech.

[Photo Credit: Variety]

Related at 2008 Central:

Full text of the speech...

This election is unlike any we have faced before. The stakes are higher. And the challenges we face as a nation are greater than at any time in memory.

We as a nation must choose whether to do what America has always done in times like these -- change direction and move boldly into the future for the sake of our children, if not for ourselves, or wander in the same stale direction we have traveled in our recent past.

The choice we must make is as important as it is clear.

It is a choice between looking back and looking forward.

A choice between the way we've always done it and the way we could do it if we dared.

A choice between corporate power and the power of democracy.

Between a corrupt and corroded system and a government that works for us again.

It is caution versus courage. Old versus new. Calculation versus principle.

It is the establishment elites versus the American people.

It is a choice between the failed compromises of the past and the bright possibilities of our future. Between resigning ourselves to Two Americas or fighting for the One America we all believe in.

As always, at these moments, the choice we make is not for us, but for our children and our great country. And this time, like no other time, the consequences for our children are truly profound.

Will we halt global warming, protect our environment and humanity from the cataclysmic consequences of inaction and leave our children a livable world rich in the resources that were left to us?

Will we prevail against terrorism by stopping those who would harm us and winning over the minds of those who have yet to take sides so that instead of an ever more dangerous and war-torn world, our children live in a nation that is safe, strong and once again viewed throughout the world as a truly moral leader?

Will corporate greed be all we value as we move further into the global economy, or will we put workers and families first, so that all jobs pay fair wages, every American has health care and corporate profits work for democracy and not the other way around?

Will we face our future as individuals, each of us asking, "What's in it for me?" Or will we return to the central value that makes our nation great? That we are all in this together and each of has a responsibility to the common good.

The choices we make will determine not just the quality of life our children will inherit, but the fate of the world we leave behind.

To succeed for our children where we have too often failed for ourselves, we must choose a new course. Those wedded to the policies of the 70s, 80s, or 90s are wedded to the past -- ideas and policies that are tired, shop worn and obsolete. We will find no answers there.

But small thinking and outdated answers aren't the only problems with a vision for the future that is rooted in nostalgia. The trouble with nostalgia is that you tend to remember what you liked and forget what you didn't. It's not just that the answers of the past aren't up to the job today, it's that the system that produced them was corrupt -- and still is. It's controlled by big corporations, the lobbyists they hire to protect their bottom line and the politicians who curry their favor and carry their water. And it's perpetuated by a media that too often fawns over the establishment, but fails to seriously cover the challenges we face or the solutions being proposed. This is the game of American politics and in this game, the interests of regular Americans don't stand a chance.

Real change starts with being honest -- the system in Washington is rigged and our government is broken. It's rigged by greedy corporate powers to protect corporate profits. It's rigged by the very wealthy to ensure they become even wealthier. At the end of the day, it's rigged by all those who benefit from the established order of things. For them, more of the same means more money and more power. They'll do anything they can to keep things just the way they are -- not for the country, but for themselves.

Politicians who care more about their careers than their constituents go along to get elected. They make easy promises to voters instead of challenging them to take responsibility for our country. And then they compromise even those promises to keep the lobbyists happy and the contributions coming.

Instead of serving the people and the nation, too many play the parlor game of Washington -- trading favors and campaign money, influencing votes and compromising legislation. It's a game that never ends, but every American knows -- it's time to end the game.

And it's time for the Democratic Party -- the party of the people -- to end it.

The choice for our party could not be more clear. We cannot replace a group of corporate Republicans with a group of corporate Democrats, just swapping the Washington insiders of one party for the Washington insiders of the other.

The American people deserve to know that their presidency is not for sale, the Lincoln Bedroom is not for rent, and lobbyist money can no longer influence policy in the House or the Senate.

It's time to end the game. It's time to tell the big corporations and the lobbyists who have been running things for too long that their time is over. It's time to challenge politicians to put the American people's interests ahead of their own calculated political interests, to look the lobbyists in the eye and just say no.

And it's time for the American people to take responsibility for our government -- for in our democracy it is truly ours. If we have come to mistrust and question it, it is because we were not vigilant against the forces that have taken it from us. That their game has played on for so long is the fault of each of us -- ending the game and returning government of the people to the people is the responsibility of all of us.

But cleaning up Washington isn't enough. If we are going to meet the challenges we face and prevail over them, two principles must guide us -- yes, we must end the Washington game, but we must also think as big as the challenges we face. Our ideas must be bold enough to succeed and our government must be free to enact them without compromising principle or sacrificing results.

One without the other isn't good enough. All the big ideas in the world won't make a difference if they have to go through this broken system that remains controlled by big business and their lobbyists. And if we fix the system, but aren't honest with the American people about the scope of our challenges and what's required of each of us to meet them, then we'll be left with the baby steps and incremental measures that are Washington's poor excuse for progress.

As Bobby Kennedy said, "If we fail to dare, if we do not try, the next generation will harvest the fruit of our indifference; a world we did not want, a world we did not choose, but a world we could have made better by caring more for the results of our labors."

But if we do both -- if we have the courage to offer real change and the determination to change Washington -- then we will be build the One America we dream of, where every man, woman and child is blessed with the same, great opportunity and held to the same, just rules.

For more than 20 years, Democrats have talked about universal health care. And for more than 20 years, we've gotten nowhere, because lobbyists for the big insurance companies, drug companies and HMOs spent millions to block real reform. Instead, they've grudgingly allowed incremental measures that do nothing but tinker around the edges -- or worse, they've hijacked reform to improve their own bottom line. So today, more Americans go without health care than ever before. Instead of prescription drug reform that brought down the cost of drugs, the lobbyists for the big drug companies got us a prescription drug bill that boosts drug company profits but doesn't cut patient costs.

I have a bold plan to finally guarantee true universal health care for every single American and cut health care costs for everyone. My plan will require everyone -- business, government and individuals -- to contribute something to reach universal coverage. And I am honest about the cost: $90 to $120 billion a year, and I'll pay for it by repealing the Bush tax cuts for families above $200,000. If we end the game in Washington, we can finally have a health care system that treats the health of all our people with equal worth.

Dependence on foreign oil is smothering our economy and choking our environment. Everybody knows it -- politicians from both parties have been calling for energy independence for 30 years. So what did the oilmen in the White House do? They handed the keys to the corridors of government over to the lobbyists for the big oil companies and let them literally write the energy bill. Now, gas prices are through the roof, carbon emissions are unchecked, and global warming is likely getting worse.

When I am president, we will cap greenhouse gas pollution and ratchet it down every year. We will avoid mistakes like nuclear power and liquid coal. We will invest in clean renewable energies generated in America and create a new era in efficient cars, made by union members here at home.

And look at our economic policies -- from top to bottom, they're a twisted reflection of American values. Instead of expanding opportunity for all and preventing special privileges for any, they hoard opportunity and protect special privileges for the very few at the very top.

Trade policy is all about corporate profits for big multinationals and not at all about lifting workers' wages or creating American jobs. The tax code provides breaks for hedge fund managers -- amazingly, even Democrats backed down from asking them to pay their fair share when Wall Street lobbyists put the pressure on. By the time a decade of corporate opposition to a minimal increase in the minimum wage is overcome, even its own supporters admit that the increase isn't enough -- so another decade of corporate opposition begins anew, and workers lose again.

It's time we put our economy back in line with our values. Let's restore fairness to our tax code by insisting on a simple principle -- nobody in the middle class should pay higher taxes on the money they make from hard work than the wealthiest pay on the money they make from their investments. Let's restore opportunity and responsibility to our trade policy by requiring that every new trade deal puts workers and wages first. Let's reward work by strengthening unions, raising the minimum wage, cutting taxes on working families and with a national commitment to end poverty within a generation.

And let's support our troops and end this war in Iraq. We should immediately withdraw 40-50,000 combat troops immediately and have the rest out in about a year. And when President Bush refuses to act, Congress should use its funding power to force him to act.

None of this will be easy, but all of it is possible.

I know. I've been doing it my entire life.

I am the son of Wallace and Bobbie Edwards. My father had to borrow $50 to bring me and my mother home from the hospital. I am here today because, like all the people my father worked with in the mill, my parents got up every day believing in the promise of America, and they worked hard -- no matter what obstacles were thrown against them -- to give me the chance for a better life.

That's the promise at the heart of the American Dream. What matters to our generation is of little consequence -- in America what has always mattered most is the consequences for our children and their children after them. And no amount of power or money gives anyone the right to break that promise with our future.

I have stood with ordinary Americans at the most difficult times in their lives, when all the power of corporate America was arrayed against them. I have walked into courtrooms alone to face an army of corporate lawyers with all the money in the world. I have walked off the Senate elevator and been besieged by an army of corporate lobbyists. And I have beaten them over and over again.

But let me tell you one thing I have learned from my experience -- you cannot deal with them on their terms. You cannot play by their rules, sit at their table, or give them a seat at yours. They will not give up their power -- you have to take it from them.

We cannot triangulate our way to real change. We cannot compromise our way to real change. But we can lead to real change. And we can start today.

Nearly ten years ago, I made the decision that I would never take a dime from a Washington lobbyist -- I wasn't going to work for them, and I didn't want their money.

Because in the courtroom, when you present your case to the jury, you can offer facts and evidence, you can argue your heart out -- and I have -- but the one thing you can't do, is pay the jury. We call that a bribe. But in Washington when an oil lobbyist gives money to office holders to influence our energy policy, they call it politics. That's exactly what's wrong with this system.

Money flies like lightning between corporations, lobbyists, and politicians. We need full public financing to reform the system once and for all. But we don't need to wait to reform our party. Two weeks ago, I called on all Democrats to reject contributions from federal lobbyists. To tell them -- we know that you give money to influence politicians on behalf of your corporate clients. Well, we're not going to take it anymore. Your money's no good here.

I repeat that challenge today. Let's show America exactly whose side we're on. We can reform our party and truly be the party of the people. And we can expose for all time who the Republicans in Washington are really working for.

There are 60 lobbyists in Washington for every member of Congress. The big corporations don't need another president that looks out for them -- they've got all the power they need. I want to be the people's president.

A few weeks, ago I met a man named James Lowe in Wise, Virginia. James spent the first fifty years of his life without a voice -- literally without a voice -- because he didn't have health care. All he needed was a simple operation to fix a cleft palate. That a man in the richest country in the world could go unable to speak for 50 years because he couldn't pay for a $3,000 operation is something that should outrage every American. We are better than that. America is better that that.

It's a stark reminder of our broken political system that leaves millions of Americans without a voice in their government -- a government that is supposed to work for them.

But it doesn't have to be that way. And we can change it together.

We must think big and end the game.

It's not about being ready to grab the reigns of establishment Washington and stand on the side of corporate elites. If it is, there are plenty who will do a better job than me at protecting the status quo, and preserving the policies and politics of the past.

It's about being ready to lift our country up, reform our party, and remake our government in line with the values of our people. It's about real change and a new vision that meets the challenges of the future and inspires the American people to work together for the common good.

We're all angry at what George Bush has done to our country. But with courage and conviction, with an unblinking eye on the future we believe in and an unbending knee on the road to get there, not only can we undo the damage, we can transform the world. No matter what life has thrown at us, Elizabeth and I have always chosen to be optimistic about the future -- and determined to make a difference as we strive toward it everyday.

I carry the promise of America in my heart, where my parents placed it. Because of them, I believe in people, hard work and the American Dream. I believe the future belongs to us if we only dare to seize it. And I believe to seize it, we must blaze a new path, firmly grounded in the values that first made America great. We must cast aside the established ways of Washington and replace them with the timeless values of the American people. We must end the game controlled by a privileged few and restore the promise that America owes to us all.

On that new path lies One America, where possibility is unbound and opportunity is the birthright of every American. Where the voices of the people are heard again in the halls of government, and government heeds their call. One America, where every individual takes responsibility for our common good, and the chance to reach one's God-given potential is every individual's common right.

I am the son of Wallace and Bobbie Edwards.

And I believe in the promise of America.

There's more...

Lobbying- Do issues matter to Democrats on mydd?

I know that this blog is chiefly concerned with the election process, but does that mean that issues, themselves, don't matter on It seems their only functions are to serve candidates rather than the reverse. Big Tent Democrat had an excellent diary up on this subject recently, and I want to add to it.

Right now, there is this silly debate about lobbying that is ocurring on this site because the debate is framed as "my candidate didn't take lobbying money" or "your candidate is a hypocrite" because they took lobbying money.

Isn't this besides the point? That is- isn't the question of what each candidate has or has not done besides the point of what we should think with regard to the question raised about the influence of lobbists in DC? You may or may not agree about their influence, but one gets the feeling in reading some of these diaries that the agreement or disagreement is based on which candidate one supports.

more below

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What is Strength Through Peace

  Americans are fed up; fed up with the war, with healthcare, with our approach to the environment. Citizens are fed up with unconstitutional "patriotism", with unitary executive "order", with a "Vice-President" using unprecedented power, with "wars on terror";  with a now neurotic sense of national identity that reflects a broken constitution and that foreboding sense of irony that comes with these endless quotations!

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Press Released: July 2-9, 2007

[Republished from]

Press Released will cover the previous week's press releases from presidential candidates that may have been overlooked in the media cycle. It's not meant to be complete, but should be comprehensive including any release relating to national politics. Any release that is calendar related, not of national concern, or previously blogged about will not be covered here.

This week, we're also excluding financial report press releases; we're going to include them in our reports of the detailed financial results we post later in the week.

Duncan Hunter...

  • Hunter called for Bush to pardon Ramos and Compean in light of the Libby commutation.

John McCain...

  • McCain released a transcript of a conference call his senior strategist, John Weaver, had on Monday.

  • McCain's statement on July 4.

  • Text of the address McCain gave to troops in Iraq on July 4.

Mitt Romney...

  • Romney received a newspaper endorsement in Florida, and announced women and veteran support groups in New Hampshire.

  • Romney commented on July 4.

  • Romney also commented on Independence Day in Venezuela.

  • Romney issued a release of his comments he gave to the Young Republican convention tonight.

Ron Paul...

  • Paul touted his win in a straw poll of the Coalition for New Hampshire Taxpayers.

  • Paul's campaign was the first to offer their site on the iphone.

Rudy Giuliani...

Sam Brownback...

  • Brownback won a straw poll in Iowa's Black Hawk county.

Tom Tancredo...

  • Tancredo launched an Iowa Idol talent search. Whatever to get attention, I guess.

  • Tancredo also called for pardsons for Ramos and Compean in the wake of the Libby commutation.

Barack Obama...

  • Obama reiterated his stance against the SCOTUS diversity ruling.

Bill Richardson...

  • Richardson took July 4th as an opportunity to declare energy independence.

Christopher Dodd...

  • Dodd broadcast the performance by Paul Simon this week on his website, which now features D-TV.

Dennis Kucinich...

  • Kucinich addressed the Steelworkers Union in Cleveland.

  • Kucinich also issued a statement on July 4.

Hillary Clinton...

Joe Biden...

  • Biden received three endorsements in Iowa and five in New Hampshire.

  • Aside from his initial statement on Libby, Biden issued another statement on Libby as well.

  • Biden called on the Pentagon to build MRAPS (SUVs with a greater capability of withstanding IED attacks) faster than is scheduled.

John Edwards...

  • Edwards called for a substantial increase in the minimum wage this week.

  • Edwards issued a statement on July 4.

  • Edwards received a number of endorsements in Ohio.

Mike Gravel...

  • Gravel called for the war on drugs to be ended.

Mike Bloomberg...

  • Bloomberg touted the record number of affordable housing units available in New York City.

Editorial Note:all language I use to describe a release is what the candidate uses or what I judge to be the most accurate way of describing the candidate's position; e.g., if a candidate calls global warming the 'climate crisis' I will use that; if they call it 'alleged global warming' I will do the same.

There's more...


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