Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards plans to hold a "town hall meeting" in Iowa City today to discuss President Bush’s plan to send more troops into Iraq. Edwards voted for the war back in 2003 when he was a U.S. Senator representing the state of North Carolina. But as Edwards launched his second campaign for the White House last month, Edwards told an audience in Des Moines that vote was a mistake.
"I voted for this war…and have since said that I should not have voted for this war. It was a mistake and I take responsibility for that. I’m not responsible for the conduct of this war. That’s Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld and they bear the responsibility for that," Edwards said. "…Where we are now is we have bad and worse choices. Nobody can guarantee what the result is going to be in Iraq, no matter what path we take."
Edwards has criticized those who have suggested sending more troops to Iraq, even before President Bush announced his intention to pursue that strategy this month. "My view is that it would be an enormous mistake to adopt the McCain Doctrine and escalate this war in Iraq," Edwards told Iowans back on December 28th. "That is not what we should do." "What we should do is make it clear we’re not going to stay in Iraq and the best way to make it clear is to actually start leaving."
Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth, says she’s watched her husband struggle with the issue and the turning point came in 2005 when Edwards authored an opinion piece. "He wrote a version and then of course, the staff goes at it and they took out the ‘I was wrong’ and he said ‘No, I’ve got to start with "I was wrong."’ Maybe it’s lots of good years as a husband where you teach them that they have to say that," Mrs. Edwards says. "Whatever it is, he knew he had to say he was wrong." She says her husband argues that "holding on to the lie" makes it impossible to find the right solution.
Mrs. Edwards says her husband it trying to walk the line of criticizing the way the president has prosecuted the war in Iraq without being critical of the troops who are in Iraq carrying out the president’s orders. Edwards and his wife will be at the University of Iowa’s Memorial Union this afternoon for an open forum, which begins at one o’clock.