United States presidential election, 2008: Democrats Debate Iraq, Iran, Israel

During the Democratic debate last night in New Hampshire, neither Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, or Barack Obama would commit to withdrawing all U.S. troops from Iraq during their first term in office.

Senator Joe Biden, however, did pledge to do so if there is no political solution by that time. Senator Chris Dodd said he would remove all troops from Iraq before the end of his term in the presidency. Representative Kucinich said he would ensure a complete troop withdrawal by April of 2009, if elected.

Former Senator John Edwards attempted to distinguish himself from Hillary Clinton on Iraq, criticizing her for a recent statement that she would likely continue combat missions in Iraq to fight al Qaeda.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson said all three of the leading candidates’ plans for Iraq are merely “changing the mission” of the troops. Richardson favors an immediate withdrawal of all troops.

Hillary Clinton at first refused to answer host Tim Russert’s question of whether Israel would be justified in attacking Iran, calling it a hypothetical. She then conceded she strongly supports Israel’s apparent attack on Syrian nuclear material earlier this month.

Barack Obama similarly seemed to avoid directly answering Russert’s question. Obama stressed “stalwart” U.S. support for Israel, then said that until the United States is implementing strong economic sanctions on Iran, “we shouldn’t be having conversations about attacks in Iran.”

John Edwards also dodged the question, instead responding with a reiteration of his own plan for Iran, which involves “carrots and sticks” for Iranian economic development in exchange for an end to nuclear ambitions.


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