Edwards Comes Full Circle on Iraq

A year and a half later, in December 2005, after running for vice president as Sen. John Kerry's, D-Mass., running mate, Edwards penned a Washington Post op-ed apologizing for his pro-war vote and the apologies have kept coming.

"I was wrong to vote for this war," Edwards said last week during a Democratic debate in South Carolina. "Unfortunately, I'll have to live with that forever. And the lesson I learned form it is to put more faith in my own judgment."

In a memoir set to be published in June, former Edwards consultant Bob Shrum expresses regret for advising the former North Carolina senator to give Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq. Shrum writes in his book, according to excerpts obtained by The Associated Press, that Edwards would have been a stronger presidential candidate in 2004 if he had followed his own instincts rather than the advice of political professionals.

Edwards has not spoken in-depth about Shrum's comments, when questioned about it after speaking to the International Association of Fire Fighters he simply said that political people "talk to you all the time" and that the ultimate responsibility lies with him.

Edwards is also moving away from his earlier invocations of a global war on terror.

In an interview with Mike Allen for Time magazine, Edwards explained that he is moving away from the "war on terror" terminology because he considers it a "Bush-created political phrase."

Edwards first disavowed the phrase at last week's MSNBC debate in South Carolina when debate moderator Brian Williams of NBC News asked the eight Democratic candidates to indicate by a show of hands whether they believe there is "such a thing as a global war on terror."

Edwards did not put up his hand while Obama and Clinton did.

Edwards had used the phrase himself before, but he decided to stop using it because he believes this "political language" has "created a frame that is "not accurate.

"It's been used to justify a whole series of things that are not justifiable," Edwards told Time in an interview published Wednesday, "ranging from the war in Iraq, to torture, to violation of the civil liberties of Americans, to illegal spying on Americans. Anyone who speaks out against these things is treated as unpatriotic. I also think it suggests that there's a fixed enemy that we can defeat with just a military campaign. I just don't think that's true."

While Edwards' sharp turn to the left may ingratiate him with the more liberal voters who dominate the Democratic caucuses and primaries that select the party's nominee, it may also call his consistency into question.

"I think that John Edwards and a lot of Democrats running for president are going to regret the ridiculous pandering they have done to the far left on an issue of such importance," said Republican National Committee spokesman Dan Ronayne. "Advocating a strategy that they used to say is irresponsible before political calculations changed their tune is not something that will be rewarded."

During his speech accepting the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nomination, the former North Carolina senator engaged in some serious saber-rattling in the war on terror. "John and I . . . will have one clear unmistakable message for al Qaeda and these terrorists," Edwards said in 2004. "You cannot run. You cannot hide. We will destroy you."

Asked whether his new opposition to speaking in terms of a "war on terror" would open him up to the flip-flop charge, Trippi said the former North Carolina senator still believes that there are terrorists out there who must be stopped.

He added, however, that the "war on terror" terminology misses the point that when dealing with people out there who are "sitting on the fence," the United States has "a lot more weapons than bombs."

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