Washington's Freshman Talk Iraq Policy

Charles Gibson spoke with three new House Democrats today, who said that while they're not satisfied with the president's handling of Iraq they are inclined to go along with it.

The following is a partial transcript of Gibson's discussion with Heath Shuler of North Carolina, Nancy Boyda of Kansas and Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania.

Charles Gibson: The poll [after the November election] indicated to us, more than anything else, that the public voted on the issue of the war. So is there a Democratic position on the war?

Patrick Murphy: There is, and the fact is that we know that we need to change. If someone like myself, who served over in Baghdad with the 86th Airborne Division, I saw with my own eyes what's going on over there.

The fact is that we need to change direction with what's going on in Iraq. We need to listen to the military experts, people like Gen. Colin Powell, Gen. Abizaid, that say, "Listen, the surge isn't going to work."

Gibson: So when the president, in the next few days, as he is anticipated to do, calls for a surge and more troops going over there, how's the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives going to react?

Heath Shuler: I don't think that's the solution, with the exception, if that's what our military leaders say -- that the increase in troops is an answer, then that would be more acceptable, but not just one person saying, even the president, not just one person saying that increasing our troop level is going to create that sense of security in Iraq.

Nancy Boyda: I would be happy to vote for more troops, but I am not happy to vote for more troops without a clear mission and sending more of young men into harm's way.

Gibson: But, of course, the president thinks he's defined one, a government in Iraq that can defend itself and sustain itself and govern itself. There's the mission that he's put forth. If he says we need more troops, is the Democratic majority going to be compliant?

Murphy: I think what you hear from Heath, Nancy and I is very clear and that's the president, unfortunately, doesn't get it. It's not a military solution that's needed in Iraq. It's a political solution.

Gibson: Would you vote in favor of money to support another 20,000 to 40,000 troops in Iraq?

Boyda: I think we're going to vote to support what the commander in chief and head of military asks to do. At least, I am certainly going to vote to support it.

Gibson: If he wants the surge, he'll get it.

Boyda: Yes.… He is the commander in chief, Charlie. We don't get that choice. Congress doesn't make that decision.

Gibson: But the polls would indicate, and indeed, so many voters when they came out of the ballot box, said, "We're voting because we want something done about the war and we want the troops home."

Boyda: They should have thought about that before they voted for President Bush not once, but twice.

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