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Dissecting Tuesday Night's Debate in Philadelphia (Part 4)

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But the real key for the next president is someone who has the credibility of not having been one of the co-authors of this engagement in Iraq.

I think I am in a strong position to be able to say I thought this was a bad idea in the first place. We now have to fix it. We have to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. But we nevertheless have to take steps that are not only engaging Iraqis -- the Shia, the Sunni and the Kurds -- but also engaging Iran, Syria and other powers in the region.

Co-authors or co-sponsors on the engagement of Iraq are certainly out. Would you expand that to co-supporters of funding of the war?

You are in a strong position to say you were against this from the start. But for those of us who want peace and justice in the world, you basically offer us nothing. In your “anti-war” speech, you state this is not an anti-war speech and clarify your appearance at an anti-war rally. You justify everything by saying you are not against war but you are against “dumb wars.” But Barack, aren’t all wars dumb? Show me a smart war. Exactly what war in history was smart? Let’s get into a serious discussion here.

Any Obama supporters care to come out of the woodwork and defend Barack Obama?

Williams: Senator Edwards, same question.

Edwards: Well, here's what I want. I want to make certain that voters in Iowa and New Hampshire and all across America, Democrats and Independents, understand that you have choices in this election, very clear choices.

If you believe that combat missions should be continued in Iraq over the long term, if you believe that combat troops should remain stationed in Iraq, and if you believe there should be no actual timetable for withdrawal, then Senator Clinton is your candidate.

Clear choices. Yes. Some candidates feel like taking stances for the people. And some don't. Continue.

Edwards: I don't. I think that we need to end combat missions; we need to get combat troops out of Iraq. As president of the United States, I will do that. I think it's a requirement of leadership, as president. And I will do it in my first year in office: combat missions ended, combat troops out of Iraq, period.

So there's a very clear choice here between the candidates.

And the second thing that I want to make certain that voters are aware of, when we talk -- we've had a long discussion about Iran. And Barack just made the connection to Iran, and there is a very clear connection.

Because we need to learn from the past. And what we've learned from the past is you cannot trust this president. And what I worry about is, if Bush invades Iran six months from now, I mean, are we going to hear: "If only I had known then what I know now?"

Well, we know enough now to know we have to stand up to this president.

And the second point I would make is, I was surprised by Senator Clinton's vote. I'll be honest about that. And then I saw an explanation of it in The New York Times for her vote which basically said she was moving from primary mode to general election mode.

I think that our responsibility as presidential candidates is to be in "tell the truth" mode all the time. We should not be saying something different in the primary than we say in the general election. I think that's what Americans have been hearing from George Bush, and I think they're looking for something different and voters have a choice in this election.

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Kevin Gosztola is a writer and curator of Firedoglake's blog The Dissenter, a blog covering civil liberties in the age of technology. He is an editor for OpEdNews.com and a former intern and videographer for The Nation Magazine.And, he's the (more...)

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