WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards was skeptical about voting for the Iraq war resolution and was pushed into it by advisers looking out for his political future, according to an upcoming book by one of his former consultants.
Democratic strategist Bob Shrum writes in his memoir to be published in June that he regrets advising Edwards to give President Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq. He said if Edwards had followed his instincts instead of the advice of political professionals, he would have been a stronger presidential candidate in 2004.
Edwards spokesman David Ginsberg disputes the suggestion that Edwards was making a political calculation with the vote that he has called the most important of his career.
Intelligence, not political advisers
"John Edwards cast his vote based on the advice of national security advisers and the intelligence he was given, not political advisers," Ginsberg said. "He got political advice on both sides of the argument, and made his own decision based on what he thought was right, not political calculation."
After standing by his vote throughout the 2004 campaign, Edwards has recently acknowledged being conflicted about his decision in October 2002 and says it was a mistake. But Shrum's book, "No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner," provides the most extensive insight into Edwards' private discussions over the decision. The Associated Press obtained excerpts from uncorrected galley proofs of the book to be published June 5 by Simon & Schuster.
Edwards 'skeptical', wife against it
Shrum writes that Edwards, then a North Carolina senator, called his foreign policy and political advisers together in his Washington living room in the fall of 2002 to get their advice. Edwards was "skeptical, even exercised" about the idea of voting yes and his wife Elizabeth was forcefully against it, according to Shrum.
But Shrum said the consensus among the advisers was that Edwards, just four years in office, did not have the credibility to vote against the resolution and had to support it to be taken seriously on national security. Shrum said Edwards' facial expressions showed he did not like where he was being pushed to go.
Edwards, campaigning for the 2008 nomination among Democrats who are overwhelmingly anti-war, has said he voted yes because he was ultimately convinced by intelligence reports saying that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. He's said in recent months that he was conflicted because he was worried that Bush wouldn't work with the international community to avoid an invasion. He's said repeatedly that he shouldn't have voted for the resolution.
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