At the ABC News Democratic presidential debate in Des Moines Sunday, the issue of Iraq brought out the most lively back and forth exchange of the morning among the candidates.
The question of when to bring home American troops gave the candidates an opportunity to try and distinguish themselves and go beyond the rhetoric of "I will end this war when I am president."
They all agree that it's a great challenge and will take time. But the timing of when that process should start showed some differences, with Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama essentially agreeing with Joe Biden's stance that a residual force in Iraq but Bill Richardson pushing for a withdrawal in the next six to eight months.
Several candidates have the opportunity to further lay out and distinguish their position on Iraq at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Kansas City this week.
Barack Obama previewed his Tuesday 12:00 pm ET remarks on a conference call with veterans last night. Obama told the veterans on the call that their support will be a key part of him winning the presidential campaign and called for an increase in the armed forces to relieve strain on the troops on the ground now.
Not-yet-a-candidate Fred Thompson starts the day off with remarks at 10:30am ET.
Hillary Clinton and John McCain spoke to the convention on Monday, President Bush speaks Wednesday. (And John "no surrender" McCain hinted at September 11 as the date to circle on your calendars for the highly anticipated Petraeus report.
Tuesday's other political events…
Thompson attends a private fundraiser in St. Louis Mo. at 7:30 pm ET. ABC News' Jake Tapper reports a liberal activist lodge a complaint with the FEC against Thompson contending his testing-the-waters operation has long since surpassed that designation. Stay tuned.
Mitt Romney travels to Nevada where he has fundraisers in Las Vegas at 2:30 pm ET and Lake Tahoe at 9:00 pm ET.
Rudy Giuliani spends his day in California.
John McCain has no public schedule.
Mike Huckabee campaigns in South Carolina. He meets with supporters in York at 12:00 pm ET, does a 1:40 pm ET interview on WRHI radio (1340 AM) in Little Rock, and appears at 3:00 pm ET in Fort Mill. He forays into North Carolina for a 4:00 pm ET appearance on the Danny Fontana Show on WDYT, before heading back to South Carolina to talk to supporters and throw out the first pitch at the Charlotte Knights/Norfolk Tides baseball game at 7:00 pm ET.
As for the Democrats…
Hillary Clinton spends her day in Chappaqua, New York with no public campaign events.
After the VFW convention, Barack Obama makes his way to New Hampshire for the Nashua Pride Game and pre-game picnic at Historic Holman Stadium.
John Edwards has no public schedule.
Joe Biden attends an 8:30 am ET breakfast at B'nai Jeshurun Temple in Des Moines.
President Bush meets with the North American Competitiveness council in Canada at 9:00 am ET, after which he participates in the 10:30 am ET North American Leaders Meeting, and attends a working lunch with the Prime minister of Canada and the President of Mexico. The President then flies to Minneapolis to receive a briefing on the I-35W bridge collapse at 4:45 pm ET. At 5:30 pm ET President Bush speaks at a fundraiser for Sen. Norm Coleman.
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