Wednesday, February 12, 2003

11 Feb 2003 18:14
US Democratic activists fret over war with Iraq

From Alternet/Reuters
By John Whitesides

-WASHINGTON, Feb 11 (Reuters) - While the momentum for war grows, so does the skepticism of Democratic activists who question why so many of the party's presidential contenders are falling in line on Iraq behind President George W. Bush.

-Democratic White House contenders John Kerry and John Edwards have even been targets of small antiwar protests.

-Democrats seeking the White House have been walking a fine line on Iraq for months, auditioning for the role of U.S. commander-in-chief while courting the activists who turn out in big numbers during the party's early nominating contests.

-The four most prominent candidates -- Missouri Rep. Richard Gephardt and Sens. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina -- backed a congressional resolution last fall giving Bush, a Republican, authority to wage war against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

-"I think a majority of Iowa Democrats still harbor pretty serious reservations about the advisability of this war," said Iowa state Sen. Jack Halveck, who plans to sponsor an antiwar resolution in the Iowa legislature.

-"There is a market niche here," she said.That is good news for former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who has criticized his rivals for supporting the Iraq resolution, although he says he would support a U.N.-backed campaign against Baghdad. Civil rights activist Al Sharpton also has been outspoken against the war.
At least two others still considering the race could benefit. Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich led House Democratic opposition to the Iraq resolution and is visiting Iowa this weekend. Florida Sen. Bob Graham, who also opposed the resolution, is expected to join the race later this month after recovering from heart surgery.

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