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Running for Senate, and Against the War
At a Montgomery County forum last month that drew about 200 antiwar activists, some heard what they were hoping for. "I won't vote to spend another penny [for the war] except to bring our troops home," said American University Prof. Allan J. Lichtman, one of six Democrats running in the September primary.
But an April Washington Post poll showed that although most Americans want to reduce the number of troops in Iraq, more than 70 percent believe troops cannot be withdrawn immediately.
Cardin wasn't at last month's Montgomery event and was criticized by some opponents for votes authorizing money for the Iraq war.
He has called for more involvement by international organizations but has rejected timetables for withdrawals. He says devising an exit strategy is complicated by the fact that Bush will be in office for two more years.
Fellow Democrat Kweisi Mfume has said Congress must force the president's hand through the appropriations process and establish a plan for withdrawal. "If we can set a date certain for an Iraqi constitution and a date certain for establishment of an Iraqi government, which we did, I think we ought to be able to set a date certain for withdrawal" in concert with increased international participation, he said.
The winning Democrat will most likely face Republican Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, who has not discussed in detail his views on a number of issues, including Iraq.
In Virginia, Miller said he would tie troop withdrawal to specific "benchmarks," such as the number of Iraqi troops trained, the number of police in place and other factors.
For his part, Webb said he is reluctant to endorse a specific exit strategy "from the third row of the spectator seats." He said the first step should be stating that the United States has no long-term interest in staying in Iraq and working to get the countries in the region to take a more active role. He believes U.S. troops could be out in a couple of years, but he remains cautious. "We got in precipitously," he said. "We have to get out carefully."