Edwards Again Says He Was Wrong to Vote for War

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, appearing on
Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, appearing on "Meet the Press," again expressed regret for his vote authorizing the invasion of Iraq. (By Alex Wong -- "Meet The Press" Via Associated Press)
By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 5, 2007

Of the 2008 Democratic presidential contenders who voted to give President Bush authority to wage war in Iraq, only one will have no chance to make a very public U-turn when resolutions opposing the president's new war plan come before Congress in the coming days.

That one is John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator who showed again yesterday that he will find other venues to parlay his Senate vote into an extended mea culpa.

Edwards began drawing attention to his vote in fall 2005, writing an op-ed piece in The Washington Post that began with: "I was wrong."

The soul-searching continued yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"It wasn't just the weapons of mass destruction I was wrong about," Edwards said. "It's become absolutely clear -- and I'm very critical of myself for this -- become absolutely clear, looking back, that I should not have given the president this authority."

Edwards's nationally televised admission was just the start of a lengthy public dissection of the errors he said he made in casting the most important vote of his Senate tenure.

Some believe that kind of introspection has helped Edwards build a bridge to the most vocal anti-Iraq-war quarters of the Democratic Party and may help distinguish him from one of his chief rivals for the party's nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.).

During yesterday's broadcast, Edwards said he believes that "anybody who wants to be president of the United States has got to be honest and open, be willing to admit when they've done things wrong."

"If she believes that her vote was wrong," Edwards said when asked about Clinton, "then, yes, she should say so. If she believes her vote was right, then she should defend it."

Clinton has not retracted her vote to authorize the war, saying "there are no do-overs in life." But she has made no secret of her distaste for the war.

On Friday, she defended her support for a nonbinding resolution expressing disapproval of Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq but also said she is ready to press for tougher action.

"John Edwards is fully aware that Senator Clinton has been a strong and consistent critic of the war and has taken responsibility for her vote," said Phil Singer, a Clinton campaign spokesman. "Instead of attacking the character of fellow Democrats, she is working to stop President Bush's escalation and bring an end to the war."

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