Governor Tom Vilsack used his last formal address as governor to ask state legislators to pass a resolution condemning President Bush’s decision to send more troops into Iraq.
Statehouse Democrats offer mixed signals as to whether such a resolution is on their agenda. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says five years ago the state senate passed a resolution in support of the Iraq war.
“I think more and more people are beginning to recognize that that may have been folly and having real concerns about an effort that would escalate the war at this point,” Gronstal says. He believes Democrats will “consider” sending a message to Washington about the war.
“I think a lot of the people in our country see this (war) as not well-thought-out, not well-planned and not well-executed,” Gronstal says. “…Any plan to escalate at this point people feel is just going to result in losing more of our troops.”
But House Speaker Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, is more cautious. Murphy says Democrats in the House haven’t even talked about the idea yet. “The bottom line is the governor is still the governor for three more days. He has the right to ask the legislature to bring up issues,” Murphy says. “But that is something we’ve got to discuss and see if that’s something we can agree to.”
According to Murphy, there was a “pretty favorable response” from the crowd when Vilsack made his suggestion that the Iowa Legislature should formally oppose the troop “surge” in Iraq. “But at the same point, too, I don’t know if we will,” Murphy says.
“We’ll just have to wait and see on that one.” House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City doubts the statehouse Democrats will decide to have a debate in the legislature about the war. “I don’t see the point in trying to garner political points off of it,” Rants says. “It is absolutely meaningless to this General Assembly as far as the work that we have to do…so if it’s brought up, it’s brought up to try to embarrass the president.”