During a joint appearance this morning, the two major party candidates competing for Iowa’s second district congressional seat clashed over the war in Iraq. Dave Franker, a democrat from North Liberty, has for the past few months been calling for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.Franker says Rumsfeld should have stepped aside in May when the details of the prison abuse scandal in Iraq became public, and Franker says he renewed his call for Rumsfeld’s exit in August. Franker says the first step toward restoring America’s leadership around the world would be to hold someone accountable for the violations of the Geneva Convention that occured in the Abu Ghraib prison, and Franker says Rumsfeld — as Defense Secretary — should be the person to go. But Congressman Jim Leach, a republican from Iowa City who’s seeking re-election, defends Rumsfeld. Leach says he worked for Rumsfeld as a young man, and it has been hard to disagree with someone he’s very close to — Leach is one of a hand full of republicans who voted against the war in Iraq. But Leach says while he differs with the war and the post-war planning, he is not a “head hunter” and Leach praises Rumsfeld for his service to the country. Leach has been calling for a clearer exit strategy for Iraq. Leach says the U.S. must establish democratic processes, an Iraqi police force and an Iraqi army first, then turn the reigns of power over to an international organization before handing things off for good to the Iraqis. Leach says he’d hoped that transition could have occured this Christmas; now he says he hopes it happens by next Christmas. The two men made their comments during taping of the Iowa Public Television program “Iowa Press” which airs tonight at 7:30.
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