The 10am Showdown…or so

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Hillary Clinton…Barack Obama…same time, same city…our first showdown (yeah, I know we still have six months til the Caucuses)

10am–the showdown begins. Or not. 10:15 for Clinton, I’m told. 10:13 for Obama. That’s where I am this morning. Clinton is releasing her plan on how to end the war. (I’ll copy it below)

Obama seems to be a little extra fired up here at Des Moines Area Community College (we’re just a few blocks away from the Clinton event downtown). Is he trying to compete with Clinton? Is it because it’s 1000 degrees inside this garage? Or is he just “on” today?

Obama received the longest ovation that I remember recently here on the campaign trail. (Bill and Hillary Clinton received a big one, too, last week at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.)

He told the crowd of about 500 there are no “do-over’s” when it comes to issues like Iraq (take that, Hillary). He repeated his phrase that the war should have never been authorized (take that, too). Big applause. (I’ll copy some of his remarks and post them under Clinton’s comments).

We get a little 1 on 1 time with him afterwards. More on that later. The campaign’s been giving us more access to him lately. Not the case with HRC.

Here are the releases from Obama and Clinton campaigns about this morning…

Hillary Clinton’s Plan to End the War in Iraq as President

Today in Iowa, Hillary Clinton announced her plan to end the war in Iraq and urged President Bush to act immediately.

“Our message to the President is clear. It is time to begin ending this war – not next year, not next month – but today.“We have heard for years now that as the Iraqis stand up, our troops will stand down. Every year, we hear about how next year they may start coming home. Now we are hearing a new version of that yet again from the President as he has more troops in Iraq than ever and the Iraqi government is more fractured and ineffective than ever.“Well, the right strategy before the surge and post-escalation is the same: start bringing home America’s troops now.”

If President Bush does not end the war, when Hillary Clinton is President, she will. Her three-step plan would bring our troops home, work to bring stability to the region, and replace military force with a new diplomatic initiative to engage countries around the world in securing Iraq’s future. Hillary has been fighting every day in the Senate to force the President to change course. And today she described how she would bring the war to an end.

Starting Phased Redeployment within Hillary’s First Days in Office: The most important part of Hillary’s plan is the first: to end our military engagement in Iraq’s civil war and immediately start bringing our troops home. As President, one of Hillary’s first official actions would be to convene the Joint Chiefs of Staff, her Secretary of Defense, and her National Security Council. She would direct them to draw up a clear, viable plan to bring our troops home starting with the first 60 days of her Administration. She would also direct the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to prepare a comprehensive plan to provide the highest quality health care and benefits to every service member – including every member of the National Guard and Reserves – and their families.

Securing Stability in Iraq as we Bring our Troops Home. As President, Hillary would focus American aid efforts during our redeployment on stabilizing Iraq, not propping up the Iraqi government. She would direct aid to the entities – whether governmental or non-governmental – most likely to get it into the hands of the Iraqi people. She would also support the appointment of a high level U.N. representative – similar to those appointed in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Kosovo – to help broker peace among the parties in Iraq.

A New Intensive Diplomatic Initiative in the Region. In her first days in office, Hillary would convene a regional stabilization group composed of key allies, other global powers, and all of the states bordering Iraq. The- mission of this group would be to develop and implement a strategy to create a stable Iraq. It would have three specific goals:

*Non-interference. Working with the U.N. representative, the group would work to convince Iraq’s neighbors to refrain from getting involved in the civil war.

*Mediation. The group would attempt to mediate among the different sectarian groups in Iraq with the goal of attaining compromises on fundamental points of disputes.

*Reconstruction funding. The members of the group would hold themselves and other countries to their past pledges to provide funding to Iraq and will encourage additional contributions to meet Iraq’s extensive needs.

As our forces redeploy out of Iraq, Hillary would also organize a multi-billion dollar international effort – funded by a wide range of donor states – under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to address the needs of Iraqi refugees. And as we replace military force with diplomacy and global leadership, Hillary will not lose sight of our very real strategic interests in the region. She would devote the resources we need to fight terrorism and will order specialized units to engage in narrow and targeted operations against al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations in the region.

Obama Discusses Economic Impact of Iraq War at Des Moines Town Hall

Iowa families squeezed by war in Iraq which costs American taxpayers $275 million each day

DES MOINES –At a town hall meeting with Iowans today, Democratic candidate for President Barack Obama discussed the ways in which Iowa families are affected by the demands of an increasingly competitive global economy and rising health care and energy costs. Obama also discussed how spending more than $275 million each day on the war in Iraq has hurt America’s ability to help working families who are feeling squeezed.

“It will be enormously difficult to invest in jobs and opportunity until we stop spending $275 million a day on this war in Iraq,” Senator Barack Obama said. “When I opposed this war before it began in 2002, I was about to run for the United States Senate and I knew it wasn’t the politically popular position. But I believed then and still do that being a leader means that you’d better do what’s right and leave the politics aside, because there are no do-overs on an issue as important as war.”

For those living in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes Des Moines, the cost of the war in Iraq will be $756.6 million through 2007. This total is equivalent to providing health care for 238,693 adults and 339,808 children; equipping 851,323 homes with renewable electricity; hiring 17,489 elementary school teachers; offering 134,819 scholarships for university students; creating 113,832 Head Start places for children; building 89 new elementary schools; recruiting 18,745 public safety officers; and hiring 12,676 port container inspectors. [National Priorities Project]

Obama said neglecting these important domestic priorities has a significant impact on workers and their families who are working harder, but falling further behind:

“You’ve seen the factories close their doors and move overseas, leaving too many cities and mill towns without their biggest source of employment,” said Obama. “I saw it when I first arrived in Chicago in the early 80s, where I took a job helping to rebuild neighborhoods that had been devastated by steel plant closings. I saw it in Galesburg, Illinois and in Newton with Maytag plants shedding jobs and moving overseas.”

Iowa families continue to feel the economic crunch brought on by soaring health care and energy costs. Iowans spend over $15 billion per year on health care, which accounts for nearly 14% of the state economy. Health insurance premiums in Iowa are increasing at an unacceptable pace – almost 4 times faster than wages over the past 6 years. In May, Senator Obama introduced a health care plan that would save the average American family up to $2500 in health care costs per year through money saving measures such as requiring competition in the insurance industry to reduce administrative costs and lower premiums, investing in Health IT and more. Click here for more information on Senator Obama’s detailed health care plan: Fact Sheet.

“We are about to receive yet another report telling us that Iraq’s political leaders have not met a single goal they set for themselves to demonstrate any kind of progress towards stability,” Obama said. “Not one goal. Well they have had their chances and George Bush has had his – we cannot keep our troops in the middle of a civil war that Iraq’s leaders refuse to end. It’s time to bring them home.”

Senator Obama also has a plan to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end. In January, Obama introduced legislation that would have all our combat troops home from Iraq by March 31, 2008.


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