Disabled Iraq Vet Vies for GOP House Seat

ByABC News
December 17, 2005, 2:34 PM

Dec. 17, 2005 — -- Democrats once again may turn to an Iraq war veteran critical of President Bush's handling of Iraq in an attempt to capture a traditionally Republican seat in the House of Representatives.

Army Maj. Tammy Duckworth, a disabled Iraq War veteran, will discuss her candidacy this Sunday in an exclusive interview on ABC News' "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

In August, another Iraq war veteran critical of Bush, Paul Hackett, ran for the House as a Democrat, narrowly losing a special election in a heavily Republican district. Hackett currently faces a likely Democratic primary battle with Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, to challenge Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, in November 2006.

Duckworth is expected to declare Sunday that she will enter a Democratic primary in hopes of winning the Illinois House seat held by Republican Henry Hyde, who is retiring after 32 years in Congress. Duckworth's likely primary opponent, Christine Cegelis, lost to Hyde in 2004.

Duckworth, who was recruited to run by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, will tell "This Week" of her opposition to how the Iraq war is being run.

"Our service members -- our troops -- have done their duty," Duckworth tells Stephanopoulos. "I don't think that our policy-makers have done theirs. I think we have a responsibility to make good choices based on good intelligence, so that when we send our troops into battle, they have a clear plan, a clear mission and a clear goal for how to accomplish that mission.

"I don't think that this administration made a good choice in sending our troops into Iraq," she adds. "I think going into Iraq was a mistake. I think we should have been fighting the enemies that attacked us at home on 9/11. We should have been out there trying to catch Osama bin Laden. Instead, we've allowed ourselves to get distracted. Now, we're spending all this money in Iraq, and our service members are being injured every single day."

"I think that, now that we're there, we definitely need to fix the problem," she continues. "I think that we need to come up with an aggressive strategy, based on benchmarks of getting our troops out of Iraq. We need to come up with a plan. I think there's a proposal out that talks about, for every Iraqi security force battalion that is stood up and able to do its job, we need to bring an American battalion home. We need to think along those lines. This administration does not have a plan."