Arizona Senator John McCain, a former Vietnam-era POW who’s gearing up to run for president in 2008, today attacked Bruce Braley, the Democrat running for Iowa’s first congressional district seat.
Braley has said, if elected, he would vote to cut off funding for the Iraq war effort as a means of getting the Bush Adminstration to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. “I reject the idea that we should cut off funding and by the way, I think it would also have a very, very bad effect on morale of our troops if we told them we were cutting off the funding for what they believe is a noble cause,” McCain says.
McCain, a Republican, joined with Braley’s Republican rival — Mike Whalen — to criticize Braley. “I know this is a very tough race and I know this issue is a very big issue,” McCain says. “We understand the frustration that people feel about the setbacks we’ve had in this war but to cut off the funding I don’t believe is a sensible or reasonable option.”
Whalen says everyone would like to see the conflict end peaceably, but withdrawing U.S. troops now isn’t the right course for Iraq. “Chaos would ensue,” Whalen says.
Braley has said cutting off funding for the war in Iraq would mirror the action many Republicans took in congress when they voted to deny funds President Clinton wanted for U.S. military operations in Bosnia. “The vote on Bosnia was whether to deploy American troops or not, something that…I strongly supported because genocide was taking place in Bosnia,” McCain says. “My understanding in reading the transcript of Mr. Braley’s remarks are that he wants to cut off funding for troops that are there (in Iraq) so I think it would be very hard to draw a comparison.”
Jeff Geertz, a spokesman for Braley, says Braley has made it clear he would only vote to deny funding for the troops “as a last resort.”
New York Governor George Pataki, another Republican presidential candidate of the future, is in Iowa today, opening an office he’s set up here to run his effort to help Iowa Republicans on this fall’s ballot. Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, a potential Democratic presidential candidate in 2008, will arrive in Iowa this weekend to help several Democrats raise campaign cash. Illinois Senator Barak Obama will campaign with Bruce Braley, the Democratic candidate in Iowa’s first congressional district, on Saturday.