Sen. John Edwards says his vote against President Bush’s request for an additional $87 billion to support U.S. troops in Iraq and rebuilding the country was not just for show.
Edwards, a Democratic candidate for president, told “Fox News Sunday” his vote was meant to tell the Bush administration that its policy of going it alone in Iraq was not working and needed to be changed.
And he says he would have voted that way even if the measure’s passage depended on him. Such a scenario, he said, would have brought administration officials back to Congress with a more detailed plan for Iraq’s future. He also said the Senate could have then forced them to involve other nations in a broader international effort.
“This was not a show vote,” said Edwards, who represents North Carolina. “I did what I believed needed to be done to change this administration’s policy in Iraq. And it did then, and still does now, need to be changed.
Pressed on whether he would have cast the equivalent of a vote of “no confidence” in the president and sent that message around the world in the middle of the war, Edwards said he would have.
Policy 'not working'
“The policy this administration was pursuing in Iraq was not working,” he said. “It needed to be changed. And I wanted to say absolutely clearly that it needed to be changed.”
Without naming anyone, Edwards said some of his rivals for the Democratic nomination were happy to go on merely criticizing the administration’s policy, but that he wanted to make a stand.
“This was our chance to step up and say with this vote what our position was,” he said. “And I thought all of that criticism was just words, if I weren’t willing to vote to support it, which is what I did.”
Congress passed the $87 billion bill in October, and Bush signed it on Nov. 6.
Among other candidates for the Democratic nomination, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio voted against Bush’s spending request.
Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri voted in favor.