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Md. 6th District congressional candidates discuss views on Iraq War

October 27, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

MARYLAND -- U.S. Roscoe Bartlett's two challengers - Democrat Jennifer Dougherty and Libertarian Gary W. Hoover Sr. - say the U.S. has met benchmarks for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

Bartlett, though, is more circumspect.

"To cut and run would create a power vacuum and make Iraq a haven for terrorists," his campaign Web site says.

"I want an endpoint," he said in an interview, "but I don't want a timetable."

Bartlett, R-Md. - who is seeking a ninth two-year term in Congress - said he prefers an "events table" of significant milestones, a list every American can monitor for signs of progress in the war.

At last week's candidate forum at Hagerstown Community College, Dougherty said Iraq already has a constitution, an elected government, a prime minister and a police force, plus a $79 billion surplus.

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Yet, the U.S. is spending billions of dollars on a war that has killed thousands of Americans, she said.

"The idea that we are going to stay and patrol a centuries-old civil war is illogical to me," Dougherty said.

Hoover agreed.

"I believe we've done all we can do ...," he said. "We need to bring our boys home."

Hoover said Democrats were elected in 2006 to end the war, but they haven't - and they still vote to fund it.

A third party in Congress can "wake up the other two parties," he said.

On his Web site, Hoover wrote, "The surge has worked, now it is time for the Iraq government to work out their problems and for the Iraq army and police to take over the security of their country."

Dougherty, on her Web site, wrote that U.S. troops should come home "as soon as possible."

She wrote that the U.S. needs a specific plan for ending the war.

"The President cannot define victory and I will not support a continuation of an aimless policy ...," the Web site says.

She has criticized Bartlett for not voting to tie funding of the war to performance objectives.

"Money equals responsibility," she said in an interview.

Dougherty said at the HCC forum that she wouldn't have voted for a war started under false pretenses.

"We cannot occupy other countries," Hoover said in an interview. "It's as simple as that."

Bartlett agreed in a separate interview that the administration has been "nebulous" in explaining when the war will end, relying on slogans such as "We'll stand down when they stand up."

Bartlett said he's accused of being "in lockstep" with President Bush, but noted that he was one of seven Republicans to vote for what was known as the Spratt substitute, referring to U.S. Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C. It called for Bush to try to get a United Nations resolution for war before returning to Congress for approval of the war.

Bartlett said in remarks prepared for House floor debate at the time that, "I felt that if we were going to send our young men and women into war, that it needed to be with the full support of the American people through their elected officials. I felt that we needed to have an additional debate and another vote. That didn't happen."

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