Saturday, May 19, 2007

Biden Renews Call for Iraq-Only Democratic Debate


Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday reissued his call for his fellow Democratic presidential contenders to join him in a debate devoted exclusively to the war in Iraq. Biden made his statement one day after the Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced logistical details for six authorized debates leading up to the 2008 primaries and caucuses.

Biden, who is one of eight candidates in the Democratic presidential field, dispatched letters to DNC Chairman Howard Dean and executives from the television networks that will be the media sponsors of the debates, which will be held from July to December.

“The American people want to understand our plans for ending this war,” Biden wrote in both letters, which called for a 90-minute debate on Iraq policy.

Biden’s letter to Dean took a more partisan shot at President Bush, saying that an Iraq debate also would pressure the 21 Republican senators up for re-election in 2008 “to break with the president on his failed policy.”

Iraq is an issue on which Biden can speak with authority as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has promoted a plan for pacifying Iraq — currently torn by sectarian violence — that calls for essentially dividing the nation into autonomous Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish regions while maintaining a central government to secure the nation’s borders and distribute oil revenues.

Biden on Wednesday was among 29 senators who voted to cut off debate and allow a floor vote on an amendment, sponsored by Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold, to require the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq except for limited missions by March 31, 2008. Voting with Biden were his three Senate colleagues who are rivals for the Democratic nominationHillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and Barack Obama of Illinois.

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