GIBSON: I'm going to go to Senator Edwards. But all of you serve in Congress or did serve in Congress. You know how slow legislatures can move; you've all experienced it in the United States Congress.
But, Senator Edwards, let me go to you. Some of you -- Governor Richardson, Senator Obama -- you have talked about a timetable for withdrawal, getting all troops out by the end of 2009, 2010. If the generals in Iraq came to you as President Edwards and said, "Mr. President" -- on January 21, 2009 -- "you're wrong, you can't do this. You're going to send Iraq back into the kind of chaos we had before," are you going to stick with it?
EDWARDS: It is the responsibility of the president of the United States and the commander in chief to make policy decisions.
EDWARDS: It is the responsibility -- of course, I would always listen to my uniformed military leadership -- directly. Not filtered through civilians -- directly.
But if you look at what happened in Iraq when the Brits began to pull their troops out, in the part of Iraq where those troops were located, there was a significant reduction in violence.
What the whole purpose -- just to be clear with people -- the whole purpose for the surge was to create some environment where there could be political progress and political reconciliation between Sunni and Shia.
Everyone believes -- even George Bush acknowledges that that's what we're trying to accomplish.
The question is, how do you get there?
Look at the loss of American lives; $600 billion and counting; and there's been essentially no political progress.
I don't believe -- and I think others would agree -- that there will be political progress until we make it clear that we're going to stop propping the Sunni and Shia up with American lives and with American taxpayer dollars.
So what we need to do -- and let me be very specific -- and this is what I will do as president: In the first year that I am president, I will pull 40,000 to 50,000 troops out very quickly.
EDWARDS: I will continue a steady redeployment of combat troops out of Iraq until they are all out within about nine to 10 months.
If my military leadership says we need some more time to make sure that we can do this in the most effective way and the most efficient way and the safest way for my troops, of course I'd be listening to what they have to say.
But I will end combat missions in Iraq in the first year, and there will be no permanent military bases.
We have to end this war, and the only way to end the war is to end the occupation, which is what I will do as president.
GIBSON: I've got one minute left, and I owe each of you 30 seconds.
RICHARDSON: Well, John, you can't end the war without -- you've got to get all the troops out to end the war because they become targets. And if you leave a small force behind, then you cannot bring the political reconciliation that is needed; you cannot bring a peacekeeping force by the United Nations or a donor conference to take over the $570 billion that we've spent on this war on resources that should be spent on health care and education for our own people.
RICHARDSON: This is where, with all due respect, we differ. I'd bring the troops back within a year. I don't want, in five years -- because I did, in another debate, some of you said you would keep troops, you wouldn't say you wouldn't get them out by 2013.