Murtha urges voters to pressure Bush on Iraq war


    U.S. Rep. John Murtha, an outspoken Democratic critic of the Iraq
    war, said in remarks to be aired on Sunday that voter pressure in the
    November congressional election could force President George W. Bush to
    pull U.S. forces from Iraq.

    “I think the vast majority will be
    out by the end of the year and I’m hopeful it will be sooner than
    that,” Murtha, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran who retired as a
    colonel after 37 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, told the CBS “60
    Minutes” show.

    The Pennsylvania Democrat said mounting pressure
    from voters tired of the war could affect this year’s midterm election
    and force Bush to devise a plan to pull U.S. troops from Iraq.

    “You’re
    going to see a plan for withdrawal,” said Murtha, the top Democrat on
    the House of Representatives subcommittee that oversees defense
    spending.

    “I think the political people who give (Bush) advice
    will say to him, ‘You don’t want a Democratic (controlled) Congress.
    You want to keep a Republican majority, and the only way you’re going
    to keep it is by reducing substantially the troops in Iraq.”‘

    All 435 seats of the House are up for election in November.

    More
    than 2,000 Americans have been killed in the nearly 3-year-old Iraq
    war, including 13 servicemen from Murtha’s congressional district.

    Murtha in November called for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq — now numbering about 145,000.

    The
    White House initially reacted by attacking Murtha for endorsing
    positions of the “extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party,” but
    changed tack in the ensuing debate and Vice President Dick Cheney
    denied that administration was trying to stifle dissent on the war.

    Some Democratic leaders, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, backed Murtha’s pullout call.

    “It’s
    my job, my responsibility to speak out when I disagree with the policy
    of the president of the United States,” Murtha said.

    “All of us
    want this president to succeed … I feel a mission here, with my
    experience, that I have to help the president find a way out of this
    thing.”