Who'll Stop the War — Democrats or Republicans?
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
We're less than 10 weeks from the midterm elections when the entire of House of Representatives and one third of the Senate is up for grabs. Only a small number of those seats are actually competitive, but Senator Charles Schumer of New York, the chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, told reporters that he expects to make big gains. Schumer repeated the Democrats' slogan of this campaign season - A New Direction for America. Beneath the party's rallying cry come bullet points, such as enact funding recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and fund stem-cell research.
But, says senior news analyst Daniel Schorr, one weighty matter is missing from the new Democratic playbook.
DANIEL SCHORR reporting:
In his meeting with reporters yesterday, Senator Schumer said nothing specific about winding down the Iraq War. On ALL THINGS CONSIDERED last Thursday, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile said we are not going to abandon Iraq, and it's time for the Iraqi government to step up the security forces.
With Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld accusing opponents of the war of appeasing "a new type of fascism" and President Bush preparing to launch another speechmaking offensive, candidates in the November election seem hesitant and cautious about committing themselves on the war.
Pennsylvania Representative John Murtha is almost alone in demanding an immediate pullout of American troops. Others seek to avoid the cut and run appellation with ambiguous calls for some sort of timetable.
There is considerable uncertainty about how Iraq will play in the November election. In Connecticut, remarkably, Republican stalwart Jack Kemp is campaigning with Senator Joe Lieberman, who backs the war. And Democratic stalwart Senator Daniel Inouye is campaigning against him.
The confusion about how Iraq will play in the election is exemplified by the fact that 59 Democrats in closely contested Senate and House races are mostly resisting demands to support an early pullout of American troops or a timetable for when redeployment will start.
Some try to fudge the issue, like Republican Representative Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, who's calling for a better and smarter plan without specifying what that plan might be.
The Wall Street Journal reports that public confidence in the conduct of the war is ebbing as the casualties grow. But our position to an immediate pullout remains high.
It remains to be seen whether the administration can bolster than sentiment with a series of presidential speeches culminating in a major speech on the anniversary of 9/11.
This is Daniel Schorr.
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