July 6, 2007
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Anna Christopher, NPR
   

SENATOR PETE DOMENICI (R-NM) DISCUSSES BREAKING RANKS
WITH WHITE HOUSE OVER IRAQ WAR
ON NPR NEWS ALL THINGS CONSIDERED
TODAY, FRIDAY, JULY 6

TRANSCRIPT BELOW; AUDIO TO BE AVAILABLE AT WWW.NPR.ORG



July 6, 2007; Washington, D.C. – In an interview airing today, Friday, July 6 on NPR News All Things Considered, Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) tells NPR’s Melissa Block that, in breaking ranks with President Bush over his Iraq War policy, he is “Choosing to go in a different direction in terms of trying to get to the same end, the end being a point in time in the not-too-distant future when the Iraqis would be in control of more of their own destiny, but America would still be militarily present.”

In response to President Bush’s July 4th message for “more patience, more courage, and more sacrifice,” Sen. Domenici says: “He’s a wonderful man, but I think what he’s – those three words, they could be applied another way. I think I have been doing just that. The question is how much? How long? He kind of would say forever, maybe, or until things – till we win. I think I have a responsibility to exercise my prerogatives and to try to expedite…that the American troops would be in a different mode of operation six or eight months from now if we push hard enough, and won’t be doing all of the fighting, holding all of the serious parts."

On what he’s heard from family members of soldiers killed in Iraq, Sen. Domenici says: “You find such a strong willingness on the parts of the parents to acknowledge that their children really wanted to be in this war. Only of late do I find that parents – a couple parents saying, ‘but I’m speaking for myself, now I want you to also try to hurry up, try to get on the side of where we can get out of there a little sooner.’ I have heard that a little bit more from the relatives of the dead military that I talk to every day.”

All excerpts must be credited to NPR News All Things Considered. Television usage must include on-screen credit with NPR logo. The audio of the interview will be made available at www.NPR.org at approximately 7:00 p.m. ET.

All Things Considered, NPR's signature afternoon news magazine, is hosted by Melissa Block, Michele Norris, and Robert Siegel and reaches 11.5 million listeners weekly. To find local stations and broadcast times, visit www.NPR.org.

-NPR-

MELISSA BLOCK: More Republicans are going public about their disagreements with President Bush on Iraq. Senator Pete Domenici is the latest defector. Yesterday, he told supporters in his home state of New Mexico that he no longer backs the current Iraq strategy. Domenici joins a number of other Senators – from both parties – who are calling on the administration to implement most of the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. I spoke with Senator Domenici earlier today – while he was traveling in New Mexico. And I asked him if he was okay with news reports saying he's breaking ranks with the President.

SEN. DOMENICI: I don’t know how you would categorize it, but I won’t argue with that. I argue with some other categorizations, but breaking ranks, probably. I started in the last 10 days or so really thinking about whether my vote and my continued support without a different policy was really the thing to do. I’m choosing to go in a different direction in terms of trying to get to the same end, the end being a point in time in the not-too-distant future when the Iraqis would be in control of more of their own destiny, but America would still be militarily present.

MS. BLOCK: Well, what has happened in the last 10 days that made you come out now to take this stand?

SEN. DOMENICI: Oh, just the more I sat down and studied it with my staff, reading what my friend Dick Lugar had to say, and my own exchange with the people here in New Mexico.

MS. BLOCK: I gather that you’ve had some conversations with family members of soldiers who have been killed in Iraq.

SEN. DOMENICI: Every death of a New Mexican is followed by me and a phone call or calls to the relatives indicating my condolences, and it’s just amazing, you find such a strong willingness on the parts of the parents to acknowledge that their children really wanted to be in this war. Only of late do I find that parents – a couple parents saying, but I’m speaking for myself; now I want you to also try to hurry up, try to get on the side of where we can get out of there a little sooner. I have heard that a little bit more from the relatives of the dead military that I talk to every day.

MS. BLOCK: They are saying accelerate the timetable, in other words.

SEN. DOMENICI: They are saying, yes. They say our son wanted to be there; we know that; he died there; that’s what he wanted. Now I am speaking for myself, I would like you to hurry up, get them out of there quicker. That’s all I’m saying, and I’m not trying to make a big case out of it. That has just happened a couple of times and it was noticeable.

MS. BLOCK: The president said on the Fourth of July that the message should be more patience, more courage, and more sacrifice. What do you make of that?

SEN. DOMENICI: What do I make of that?

MS. BLOCK: Mm-hmm.

SEN. DOMENICI: He’s been saying, and he is a great – he is a wonderful man, but I think what he’s – those three words, they could be applied another way. I think I have been doing just that. The question is how much, how long. He kind of would say forever maybe or until things – till we win. I think I have a responsibility to exercise my prerogatives and to try to expedite what I have been discussing with you, and that is that the American troops would be in a different mode of operation six or eight months from now if we push hard enough and won’t be doing all of the fighting, holding all of the serious parts. This war will be in their hands; it will have to be in the other – in the hands of the other troops.

MS. BLOCK: Well, Senator Domenici, thanks for talking with us today.

SEN. DOMENICI: You’re welcome.

(END)