Democratic presidential candidate Chris Dodd says he’s frustrated that during Sunday’s debate he didn’t get to talk about what should be done in Iraq — and Dodd is critical of what front-runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama did say on the subject.
"They seem to be less clear about this and assuming that we’re going to have a very difficult time and that it’s going to be years before we can possibly extricate ourselves, militarily, from Iraq," Dodd said. "I don’t believe that to be the case."
As for his answer to what should happen in Iraq, Dodd contends if the military started deploying troops out of Iraq today, most could be out of that country by the end of this coming April.
"It’s not simple, but it’s not as complicated. You’ve got major military facilities in Kuwait and Qatar that could absorb a lot of this. We’ve got, obviously, needs in Afghanistan. You’re not talking about moving everything back to the United States, so isn’t quite as difficult," Dodd said. "Frankly, the 100,000 independent contractors that are there, you know, that’s their responsibility. I’m not assuming the responsibility of taking care of them as well…and I wouldn’t be giving Saudi Arabia, you know, a prize of weapons at this time because they have done very little to be supportive of the resolution of the Iraqi issue."
Dodd, the only presidential candidate to campaign in Iowa on Monday, told reporters in Des Moines that his membership on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee more than qualifies him to speak about Iraq.
"I didn’t get a chance to say a word about it because I wasn’t given 30 seconds to comment on the largest foreign policy issue and other than Joe Biden, I’ve spent more time on that committee than any other person standing up there," Dodd said. "In fact, I’ve been on that committee longer than all the rest of their service combined."
Dodd has been on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for 26 years. Dodd suggests rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — senators who’ve together served about eight years in the senate — gave "confusing" answers during the debate when questioned about their proposed route out of Iraq.
"They’re not leading on this question. I mean, they’re ducking around and avoiding votes or waiting ’til the last second to vote on matters such as their vote on the supplemental funds (for U.S. operations in Iraq)…earlier this spring," Dodd said of Clinton and Obama. "If you’re going to be a presidential candidate, you’ve got to lead on these questions here."
Spokesmen for both senators brushed off Dodd’s criticism.
"Senator Obama had the judgment to oppose the Iraq war back in before it started, and today is leading the Senate efforts to bring our troops home," said Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for Obama.
"Senator Clinton has outlined her three point plan to end the war in Iraq…She has been crystal clear — if George Bush doesn’t end this war and start bringing our troops home, when she’s President, she will," said Mark Daley, a spokesman for Clinton.
Dodd spoke Monday with three dozen Iowa peace activists before flying back to Washington, D.C.