Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) was in San Francisco last week to raise money for his bid for Colorado’s open Senate seat at a party hosted by Drinking Liberally. Udall became a target for Peace Action West earlier this year after voting against the McGovern bill to withdraw troops in 6 months and voting in favor of funding with no restrictions. Udall’s voting record on Iraq has improved since then, though he is still pushing a less aggressive approach through the Iraq Study Group Implementation Act, and his position on continuing to fund the war without restrictions is unclear. I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to ask him about complete withdrawal from Iraq.
The tiny room Drinking Liberally had booked for the event was packed with people eager to talk to Rep. Udall. When he arrived, I was conveniently located near Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of the Daily Kos, so I was one of the first attendees to get a crack at talking to Udall. I started off by thanking him for sponsoring H.R. 3119, a bill prohibiting military action against Iran without congressional authorization (you can click here to ask your representative to cosponsor). Unfortunately, he was whisked away by another questioner before I was able to ask him about Iraq, so I had to find another opportunity to work my way in.
A few minutes later, Markos stood on a couch to give a glowing introduction of Udall, mentioning his vote against the Iraq war in 2002, but nothing about his subsequent action. Udall’s brief speech did not mention foreign policy. I managed to snag him for another minute on his way out the door to ask him about Iraq. He confirmed that he had read the recent Washington Post editorial by twelve former army captains stating that leaving any troops behind would not help stabilize Iraq. He said we need “some kind of residual force,” though he was skeptical about continuing to train Iraqi security forces. I mentioned the concern that the Democratic frontrunners for president were saying they couldn’t pledge to have troops out by 2013, and Udall noted that that was why he voted against the war in the first place. He said the US is “making Iran look like geopolitical geniuses.” Udall was corralled by another person before I was able to ask what size and duration of a residual force he envisions.
Leading up the 2008 elections, we want to make sure that every member of Congress and congressional or presidential candidate is hearing from voters about complete withdrawal from Iraq and using diplomacy and reconstruction to fulfill our moral obligation to the Iraqi people. Click here for our tips on how to get out to events and ask the right questions.
Photo courtesy of the Washington Post