September 20th, 2007
06:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Reid: Frustrated Dems will keep pushing for end to Iraq war

Reid said Thursday Republicans "want to protect the president more than they want to protect our troops."

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that Democrats are disappointed that they have been unable to force President Bush to change course in Iraq, but vowed to keep pushing with or without Republican help.

GOP senators have successfully filibustered every Democratic-led push to bring troops home from Iraq, using a procedural vote Wednesday to kill a proposal that would have required the Pentagon to give troops returning from Iraq stateside time equal to their time in the combat zone.

Though six Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the plan, the final vote was four short of the 60 needed to break a filibuster.

"They want to protect the president more than they want to protect our troops," said Reid, D-Nev.

And by a wide margin Thursday, senators killed a proposal by Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold to cut off money for the war. The vote was 70-28.

Democrats say the November elections that brought them to power were a mandate to wind down the 4-year-old war, now widely unpopular as the U.S. death toll nears 3,800. Reid said his caucus has a sense of disappointment and frustration over the troop deployment vote, but he insisted he would not support measures that did nothing to bring the conflict to an end.

"The majority of Congress wants to change the course of Iraq," he said. "This isn't a time to sit down and pat each other on the back and say, 'We worked something out that is bipartisan. The only thing I'm going to agree on that is bipartisan is something that does something."

Reid bristled at a question about whether Democrats are doing enough to find compromise with Republicans, saying "I even called Larry Craig" to ask for his support on Wednesday's vote.

"I bent over backwards," he said. "I went to Republican senators' offices. I called them once, twice, three times."

Craig, R-Idaho, has announced plans to resign from the Senate at the end of the month after pleading guilty to a disorderly conduct charge stemming from his arrest in a Minneapolis airport bathroom sex sting. But he has called his guilty plea a mistake, and is seeking to withdraw it.

All 49 Democrats and one independent who caucuses with them - Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont - supported Wednesday's measure. The chamber's other independent, Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman - who also caucuses with Democrats - voted with Republicans on the measure.

Reid said Democrats remain united and will continue trying to hang responsibility for the war on the GOP.

"It is very clear to the American people who supports President Bush's war," he said. "It appears that this is not only President Bush's war, it is the Republican senators' war."

The Senate did succeed in approving a resolution condemning a controversial newspaper ad by anti-war activist group, which accused the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, of "cooking the books for the White House" in his testimony to Congress last week. The vote was 72-25.

"This amendment gives our colleagues a chance to distance themselves from these despicable tactics, distance themselves from the notion that some group literally has them on a leash, like a puppet on a string," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Even then, Republicans managed to filibuster a Democratic proposal that also condemned GOP attacks on former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts during his 2004 presidential campaign.

"It's time to take a stand, not to dredge up political matters of the past but to condemn this ad," McConnell said.

- CNN Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash

Filed under: Iraq
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. James, Phoenix AZ

    "They want to protect the president more than they want to protect our troops," said Reid, D-Nev.

    In the same spirit, Mr Reid, ...

    Democrats want to protect Al Qaeda more than wanting to fight terrorists and help the Iraqi people.

    September 20, 2007 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  2. Christian, Tampa FL

    Look, if the Republicans can filibuster everything and keep progress from happening, why can't the Democrats filibuster too? There are more of them, and they could halt all legislative progress until more Republicans give in to the clear will of the American people.

    Democrats should stop being cowardly in the face of Republican opposition. They have a clear mandate from the public, and that should be all that is necessary to make things happen.

    September 20, 2007 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  3. Mike Cassidy, Lorain, Ohio

    Oh sure use the Senate to condemn one 527 organization when you don't like what it says ( Obviously in order to pass this vote, some Dems agreed that it was "over the line"

    Yet when it comes to condemning another 527 organization (Swift Boat Veterans) for their same smear tactics, nope "not gonna do it"

    The hypocrisy and unwillingness of the GOP to hold accountable those who step over the line within their own attack squad is one more reason why I refuse to vote for any member of the GOP during the upcoming election.

    Now it is time for the Dems to be "outraged" and "sickened" by this lack of good faith from the GOP. The Dems extended an olive branch of sorts to vote with the GOP on the condemnation of the ad and when the GOP got what they wanted, BAM..."we're done using those guys"

    Shame, Shame, Shame

    September 20, 2007 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  4. Richard Chainey - NYC

    And by a wide margin Thursday, senators killed a proposal by Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold to cut off money for the war. The vote was 70-28.

    There aren't 70 Dems in the Senate – what happened.

    RE: – Soros is a fraud, he owns millions of shares of Halliburton – got the SEC site and do an Edgar search, it can be verified.

    September 20, 2007 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  5. Raymond, El Paso TX

    At the risk of accelerating global warming, I say let the Republicans keep up with their filibusters. They obviously don't care what Americans think even after the mandate given to them in the mid-term elections.

    September 20, 2007 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  6. Sherry AllOver Texas

    The Democrats main problem is their continued belief that the Republicans will eventually do the honorable thing. Anyone who follows the GOP can tell you how long you'd have to wait for that to happen... when h*ll freezes over.

    September 20, 2007 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  7. Allen, Phoenix AZ

    If Harry Reid thinks the democrats are disappointed about their failures in Iraq he obviously hasn't talked to any average, non-senatorial Americans lately.

    September 20, 2007 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  8. Leon, Vista, Ca

    To people that are for the war, i'd like to say that a war doesn't end when all the people on the other side are killed. Especially not a war against an ideology. Keep up the good work, Mr. Reid.

    September 20, 2007 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  9. James, Phoenix AZ


    You may not recall this but then Candidate George Bush distance himself from ALL 527s.

    Secondly, there is a significant difference between Moveon.Org and Swift Boat Veterans for truth:

    1) SBV for Truth was comprised of Vietnam Vets who ACTUALLY served along side John Kerry. They were vets who were offended by Mr Kerry's accounts and characterizations of other vets. SBV for Truth was formed to address John Kerry's statements – no other candidate. This organization is not active today.

    2. Moveon.Org is a front for 5 wealthy liberals (Soros, Sandler, Sandler, Lewis, Bing) – none of whom served in the US Military, nor are on the ground in Iraq – yet feel it's ok to call General Petreaus a traitor. Moveon.Org was originally founded in 1998 when Clinton was being impeached. Over the last 9 years, the 527 has targeted many republicans and only supported democrats. This 527 epitomizes "Special Interests" power influencing our Government.

    Hugely Different

    September 20, 2007 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  10. Jack Hudson Fl

    How is it the democrats don't hear what the Troops themselves are saying. I was with 300 of them on the South Lawn of the White House this week and to the man they were telling the president, we are turning the tide, we can win. How is it that a General as distinguised as General Petraus can come and give them an assessment and they question his honesty. These in the house, people like Ted Kennedy who has never explained Chappaquidick, challenging someones integrity.

    We are told if we fail to learn from History we are doomed to repeat it. Well to Harry Reid, you will force this till you have lied your way into enough hearts and then it will be next to impossible to field an army because no one in their right might will fight when they know the generals have no say. You cant even run Washington right, how are you going to run the army.

    September 20, 2007 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  11. Rose Hann New London, CT

    Don't give Bush a blank check. As long as we keep funding his war, we will be in Iraq for a decade to come.
    Anyone who beleives terrorism can be totally irradicated is in denial. As long as there is an element of hate in this world, there will always be violence. The best we can hope for is praying the Bush days pass by quickly and we can secure our borders which is a foreign concept to Bush. The only reason we have not been atacked again, is because other countries do a better job at rounding the terrorists before they arrive here. We should learn from those countries what we are not doing right. Sorry, too easy, Bush is to arrogant to take the 9/11 commission's reccomdations and the Baker/Hamilton report. HE is the DECIDER!

    September 20, 2007 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  12. Mike, Cleveland, Ohio


    I could care less what GWB did 3-4 years ago in regards to all 527s. I could care even less about who funds what organization ( or SVB).

    The point I made earlier is about GOP putting pressure on the Dems to condemn an ad in a newspaper (sponsored by a GOP senator). Yet when it comes time to condemn a group who is, by and large, funded by other republicans, the GOP senators refuse to return the bipartisanship nature of the first.


    That being said, I will still respond to your points.

    1. No, actually most SVB members never served with Kerry during his tenure in 'Nam. There was only one swifty who actually served with Kerry in his boat, Stephen Gardner. (Mr. Gardner only served with Kerry for a month and half.) The rest of Kerry's mates were busy campaigning for Kerry. The SBVT propaganda smear campaign was financed by Sam Fox, a billionaire and hardline right-winger. Of course I'm sure they were also helped with the profits from John O'Neill's book, which was released by the conservative Regnery Publishing.

    2. Those liberals who fund may not have served in the military, but hey neither did "5 deferments" Cheney. I suggest you read Michael Kinsley’s article in Time magazine which just came out today (Sept. 19th). Mr. Kinsley's article states:

    "The ad is pretty tough, and the pun on the general's name is pretty witless. You could argue that since the verb ‘betray’ and the noun ‘traitor’ have the same root, the ad is accusing the head of American forces in Iraq of treason. The ad can also be interpreted — more plausibly if you consider the rest of the text — merely as questioning the general's honesty, not his patriotism.",8599,1663424,00.html

    In conclusion, I do condemn the attack on Gen. David Petraeus from It was poorly phrased and all the more reason to rid our politics of special interests and lobbyists, on both sides of the political aisle. But more to the point, James, will you condemn the Swift Boat veterans for “truth” for their dishonest ads? After all, John McCain, who is a senator in your state, condemned them when they came out. Don’t you think you should too?

    September 20, 2007 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  13., Kansas

    Right on James,Phoenix,AZ (1st comment). Im extatic to hear someonelse finally say that. The left has actually given Al Qaeda a legslative voice hear in America. It amazes me that most Americans dont realize the threats we face electing a democratic canidate to office in the middle of a war against this type of enemy.
    I am thrilled however, that groups like MoveOn. gather the best of the worst of them in one organization (and there are others). This way we can know exactly who these people are and the voters can decide if they want these 'socialists' having anything to do with the office of president.

    If the democrats had gotten a vote with the margin as great as this in their favor, the N.Y.Times would be all over it: "Congress sends clear message to president". Yeah Reid, you fell a few votes short, and its now pretty clear that democrats could care less about our troops or there commanders.

    September 21, 2007 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  14. MCD, San francisco

    James, anytime anybody says anything against the Pres & the war, they are labeled traitors by the Administration, the Republicans, and the Media on the Right.

    It was a total waste of precious time for our government to debate the MoveOn ad... it also shows what hypocrites they are.

    What surprises me, is that the republicans just don't get the fact that the MAJORITY OF AMERICANS want out of Iraq.... NOW!

    September 21, 2007 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  15. Michael Williams

    James your statement is on point. Something the liberals do not want to face. Just as there are concrete signs the surge is working. Dems are preempting this news saying it is not working because they have invested only in defeat in Iraq. I am a former Gulf War veterean..can someone tell me how our military can win almost every engagement and inflict heavy casualties and have the enemy hiding and on the run and Dems still insist that we are LOSING??? This is a slap in the face to our military who are doing an EXCELLENT job in Iraq and Afghanistan!!! This is one of the most difficult tasks of our times and it will not happen overnight!!!!!

    September 21, 2007 03:45 am at 3:45 am |
  16. Bill Charleston SC

    The poor Democrats can't get their anti-war legislation passed. What a pity. Maybe it's time they realize that they should be standing behind the President instead of trying to undermine everything he does for political gain.

    And for those of you who keep talking about this "mandate from the people to end the war", who cares? What is best for this nation is NOT always what the majority of Americans want. If that were the case, women still wouldn't be voting, and we would still be a nation of slave owners.

    It's time for all of you people to realize that we elect our leaders to govern, and not by polls. This is a REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY, which means the majority does not rule. I think it's time for a lot of you to go back to school and study about your government a little.

    September 21, 2007 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  17. Veronica, Stamford, CT

    Posted By James, Phoenix AZ : September 20, 2007 6:46 pm

    Silly comments from silly James. Is that sun baking your brain son?

    Now, as far as Mr. Reid is concerned ... TIRED OF THE LIP SERVICE MR. MAN. Will you EVER grow a spine??

    September 21, 2007 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  18. Veronica, Stamford, CT

    Gee, Dubya distanced himself from ALL 527's .. but has no problem when one of his own does the very thing the 527's do. I remember when he condemned Uncle Karl for sliming McCain in 2000, as well as reprimanding Uncle Karl for sliming Max Cleland as well. And, I remember his outrage when the GOP had national ads basically saying a vote for Dems was a vote for terrorism. Yeah, Bush was REALLY pissed off about that one. And, I couldn't BELIEVE his rage at the Swift Boat liars!

    Gee, he's my HERO.

    September 21, 2007 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  19. RightyTighty

    "And by a wide margin Thursday, senators killed a proposal to cut off money for the war. The vote was 70-28."

    Ha Ha!

    September 21, 2007 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  20. James, Phoenix AZ

    Mike – Cleveland,

    Did you not even READ any of your links?

    Wikipedia (regarding Swift Boat Vet – 527):

    Of the 3,500 Swift boat sailors who served in Vietnam, the names of some 250 appeared on the group's statement against Kerry; most did not serve at the same time or in the same place as Kerry. Founding members of SBVT include Rear Admiral Roy Hoffmann (retired), a former commander of Swift boat forces; Houston attorney John O'Neill, an officer who became commander of Swift Boat PCF 94 several months after Kerry's departure in 1969 and who appeared opposite Kerry in a televised 1971 debate between them on The Dick Cavett Show; and 13 other named veterans.

    You might want to get your facts straight before posting some kind of "truth". I'm glad to see you disagree with the ad. Too bad NONE of the democratic candidates (other than Bill Richardson) agree with you.

    I do not disagree with the SBV For Truth – as they were IN vietnam, fought the same battles, and had the credibility to address John Kerry's words and actions.

    That said... IF Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were to continue attacking other candidates year after year – then I would agree they are no better than

    September 21, 2007 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  21. Capt (retired) B. Leonard, Sacramento, CA

    To James in Phoenix:
    Please get the facts from the source, rather than running to your little weblinks that seem to do all your thinking for you.

    I was a Swift Boat captain who served in the area of John Kerry (didn't know him personally). We knew of him, and he served honorably. A lot of what was said about him in the last campaign were outright LIES.

    Take what you hear with a grain of salt, young man. It was a smear campaign, pure and simple.

    At least Senator Kerry SERVED his country, not like the nimrods we have in power now.

    September 21, 2007 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  22. Mike, Cleveland, Ohio


    This may be splitting hairs here but what I'm referring to is those veterans who actually served with Kerry on the same boat, during the same time. After all, those would be the guys who actually fought the same battles as Kerry; unlike John O’Neill or Adm. Hoffman. You are referring to members of other swift boats who didn't actually serve under Kerry's command. So in reality, my facts and your facts are both still correct, depending on the point of view.

    Furthermore, Kerry was one of the first Dems to condemn the ad on Gen. David Petraeus, by saying "it was over the top." He may not be a candidate this time around but he took the high road and did the right thing in this instance, in my opinion.

    You feel that the swifties had creditability in questioning of Kerry’s words and actions?
    Well, I have to point out that the L.A. Times, Washington Post, NY Times, ABC Nightline, US Navy records, and various witnesses have all concluded that those charges by SBVT were, by and large, LIES. James you seem like a decent man, even if our political opinions don’t see eye to eye. However, I don’t feel that is SBVT is worthy of your creditability.

    After the primaries are over and there is a candidate from both parties, I'm sure the swifties will resurrect themselves, change their name to something else, and attack the Dem candidate. As I'm sure the will do much of the same to the GOP candidate. Such is the sad state of American politics today.

    September 21, 2007 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  23. CorruptUsr

    "It is very clear to the American people who supports President Bush's war," he said. "It appears that this is not only President Bush's war, it is the Republican senators' war."

    ?? I guess he's talking to that 30% of America that never supported the war. 30% of us have always supported the spread of Iraqi freedom. And well, we can't forget the other 40% that sometimes does and sometimes doesn't, depending on which way the wind blows or the phrasing of the poll question. Guess Harry is counting on them now..

    September 21, 2007 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. demwit

    Worst rated Congress in history!

    September 21, 2007 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  25. James, Phoenix AZ

    Capt Leonard – Sacramento,

    If you have a problem with what the 250+ Vets (including Rear Admiral Roy Hoffman) – your beef is with them, not me. I simply am standing up for the right of Vets who served honorably and were offended by John Kerry. The same John Kerry that testified before Congress of the common horrific acts being perpetrated by US soldiers.

    I personally never called Kerry a coward, nor disparaged his service. I did not agree with his politics and was glad he was not elected President.

    Capt Leonard – do YOU stand against the rights of Vets from speaking out against Presidential Candidates?

    Capt Leonard – do YOU support Moveon.Org (left-wing liberal, non-military activists) calling General Petreaus a traitor?

    Mike – Cleveland,

    I appreciate your clarifying your original statement. Yes, we can disagree with politics and campaign messages. I think you and I both share common ground in wishing our election process had LESS mud and more substance. I would gladly support an election process which had NO 527 organizations nor special interests. Candidates should only run on the contributions they get from individual donors. Those list should be made public for all to see – who and how much.

    September 21, 2007 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |