Republican candidates still back Bush’s war

The Republican debate at the California presidential library of conservative Republican hero Ronald Reagan produced few confrontations or memorable moments but exposed some differences among the 10 candidates on social issues like abortion.

Most of the candidates called for victory in Iraq, one week after Democratic presidential candidates in their first debate endorsed the war’s quick end.

"We must win in Iraq. If we withdraw, there will be chaos, there will be genocide, and they will follow us home," said Arizona Sen. John McCain, who has led the charge in support of the war and backs President George W. Bush’s plan to increase troop levels in Iraq.

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the leader of the Republican pack in national polls, said: "We should never retreat in the face of terrorism. Terrible mistake."

But some candidates raised doubts about the management of the war by Bush and his administration. McCain said the war was "badly managed for four years."

"Clearly there was a real error in judgment, and that primarily had to do with listening to a lot of folks who were civilians in suits and silk ties and not listening enough to the generals," said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

The debate in California occurred in a dour political climate for Republicans six months after the party was tossed from power in Congress in November’s elections.

Polls show broad public dissatisfaction with Bush, the Iraq war and Republicans in general 18 months before the November 2008 election for the presidency, forcing the candidates to walk a fine line in deciding whether to embrace Bush or his policies.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, whose strong fund-raising and establishment support have elevated him into the race’s top tier even though he lingers in single digits in national polls, said candidates must ignore the polls when it comes to the war.

"I want to get our troops home as soon as I possibly can. But, at the same time, I recognize we don’t want to bring them out in such a precipitous way that we cause a circumstance that would require us to come back," Romney said.

‘I CHANGED MY MIND’

Conservatives have grumbled about the Republican presidential field, criticizing Giuliani for his stances in support of gay rights and abortion rights and Romney for changing his stance on those issues.

Romney defended his switch on abortion rights as an honest change of opinion. "I said I was wrong and changed my mind and said I’m pro-life. And I’m proud of that, and I won’t apologize to anybody for becoming pro-life," he said.

Most of the candidates said they backed repealing the Supreme Court decision making abortion legal, although Giuliani was ambivalent.

"It would be OK to repeal it. It would be also if a strict constructionist viewed it as precedent," Giuliani said, adding abortion should be an issue left to the states.

"You have to respect a woman’s right to make that decision," he said.

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson said it should be up to the states to decide, while former Virginia Gov. James Gilmore said he supported the right to abortion in the first eight to 12 weeks of pregnancy but had taken other steps to limit abortion when he was governor.

Giuliani and McCain agreed they would be willing to use military force to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, although McCain said there were plenty of other options before reaching that point.

The debate’s location at the Reagan library generated an explosion of tributes to the former president and conservative icon.

Former first lady Nancy Reagan, along with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, watched from the front row. But Reagan’s presence did not convince many of the candidates to agree with her support for federal funding for stem cell research.

Also participating were Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, Reps. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, Ron Paul of Texas, and Duncan Hunter of California.

Copyright © 2007 Reuters Limited

4 Responses to "Republican candidates still back Bush’s war"

  1. Razor  May 4, 2007 at 10:44 am

    Hey McCain, is there not chaos and genocide in Iraq now? And are you dumb enough to think the isurgents are going to pay air fare to the united states and attack us?

    Do you really think the US can lose anymore face than it already has? Withdrawal is not surrender, its a show of intelligence to regroup and cut losses. We know that the war was launched for false reasons that were learned later on, and that alone is good enough reason to withdraw. Admitting a mistake brings more respect than continueing a lie. With us gone from Iraq they would sort out thier differences just like they have before our invasion and occupation that has brought them nothing but societal destruction. The billions spent by american taxpayers has gone into the pockets of war profiteers, not into anything good for anyone but a few elites.

    The largest theft in world history is being pulled off right before our very eyes.

  2. Boudicca  May 7, 2007 at 10:41 am

    “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone; the people themselves are its only safe depositories.”
    Thomas Jefferson

    I don’t know why CHB continues with such outrageous lies. Ron Paul has consistently voted against the war and its funding while most of the dastardly Dems teamed up with the Bushbot criminals to outsource its congressional war making responsibilities to the Executive Branch.

    Your credibility would go a lot longer if you discovered some truths on occasion.

  3. Razor  May 7, 2007 at 11:14 am

    Yes, why no mention of Ron Paul? He clearly was the only candidate that has american values and believes the constitution is to be followed, not changed to suit corporate raiders of the treasury.

  4. jarrodlombardo  May 7, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    The lack of mention of Ron Paul is disgusting, since poll data shows he clearly WON the debate:
    http://www.clanspum.net/~jarrod/RepublicanDebate20070503.html

    –Jarrod

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