Edwards Acknowledges 'Serious Risk' of Iraq Withdrawal

Candidate says as president he'd maintain a force just outside Iraq.

May 6, 2007 — -- Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., admitted today that a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq may increase the risk of genocide between Sunnis and Shiites, despite the 2008 Democratic presidential candidate's continued call for the complete withdrawal of American troops.

"Honestly, it's a serious risk and something that the president of the United States needs to be thinking about and planning for," Edwards told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on "This Week."

He added that as president his response would include maintaining a troop presence in Kuwait, a naval presence in the Persian Gulf and additional troops in Afghanistan.

"What I would do as president is, as we withdrew our combat troops out of Iraq, I would not leave the region," Edwards said.

The one-term former senator has admitted that he made a mistake in voting for the Iraq war resolution.

When asked Sunday about a report that he argued repeatedly during the 2004 campaign that such an admission would be a mistake, he said, "I don't believe it's a sign of weakness to say when you were wrong, no. I think all of us, particularly those of us in public life, have a responsibility to tell the truth about that."

Questioned by Stephanopoulos about shifting positions on issues, Edwards encouraged voters to judge, "My character, my integrity, me as a human being ... I'm perfectly happy to be judged on that basis."

When pressed on his employment at the Fortress Investment Group in 2005, Edwards, a strong critic of offshore tax shelters during his 2004 campaign, claimed he did not know of the firm's ownership of hedge funds in the Cayman Islands.

"I am the guy I say I am," he said.

Edwards added he was open to raising taxes for the wealthy beyond a reversal of the Bush tax cuts.

"I'm for windfall profits tax, and I'm for getting rid of George Bush's tax cuts for people who make over $200,000 a year," he said.

John Edwards appeared on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday, May 6, 2007.