Benchmarks and Bickering: Where Are Dems on Iraqi Security?

Moral Obligation?

ABC News asked Reid whether the U.S. government -- including he and Schumer, who in October 2002 voted to authorize use of force in Iraq -- has a moral obligation to make sure that the Iraqi people are safe before the U.S. withdraws.

Reid said that according to a recent poll, "69 percent of Iraqis feel they are less safe because of the presence of Americans." Reid said that was directly related to the fact Iraqis "are all trying to kill our soldiers. That is a recipe to bring our troops home."

The Democratic leader added that was why "the Levin-Reed amendment is so critically important. … It transitions the mission within 120 days, and by the first day of May of next year, our troops will be out of there, our combat troops will be out of there. ...That's what the Iraqi people want and that's what American people want."

ABC News then asked Reid if he thinks the Iraqi people will be safer with U.S. troops out of the country.

"It is clear that the Iraqi people don't want us there," Reid said. "It is clear that there is now a state of chaos in Iraq. And it is up to the Iraqi people to make themselves safe. ... We can't do it. It's time the training wheels come off and they take care of their own country."

"With all due respect, senator, you didn't answer my question," said this reporter.

"This is not a debate," responded Reid.

"Will the Iraqis be safer?" asked this reporter.

"We're answering questions," Reid said, looking to call on someone else. "Anyone else have a question?"

Democratic Push for Troop Withdrawal

When asked about the details of the Reed-Levin amendment, Reid said he did not know how many troops would be left in Iraq after combat troops would be pulled by April 30, 2008.

"I don't know how many troops will be there," Reid said. "I've heard anywhere from 20,000 -- and now I've got, this is the highest number I've heard -- to 70,000." Whatever troops remain in Iraq, he said, can "only be involved in special operations, counterterrorism activities, training the Iraqis and protecting our assets that we have in Iraq."

Reid said he would vote against the amendment offered by Sens. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., to express the sense of the Senate that the president should implement the Iraq Study Group recommendations.

"They started doing the study well more than a year ago," he said. "It's been seven months since the report was given to us. And it calls for a lot of diplomatic measures. There's not a single tooth in that proposal. No, I can't vote for it."

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