Sen. Joe Biden Touts His Plan for Iraq

The Associated Press
Friday, February 16, 2007; 9:39 PM

AMES, Iowa -- Sen. Joe Biden said he is the only Democratic presidential candidate who has a plan for Iraq, dismissing the ideas of other contenders as tactics that would leave the Middle East in peril. "They have tactics, not a plan," Biden told The Associated Press on Friday.

"What are they going to do, stop the civil war? ... There's a lot of people who have ideas about how to get out, but not many ideas about how to leave something more stable behind."

The Delaware senator, opening a three-day swing through Iowa, spoke during an interview at the Ames Municipal Airport before heading to the Story County Democrats Soup Supper for a speech.

Biden expounded on his plans for Iraq during the interview, and touted himself as the Democrat with the best and broadest knowledge of foreign policy.

Biden said violence in Iraq could be alleviated if the country implements what he calls a federal system, in which Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis would be divided into separate regions to avoid conflict.

"The only way you get control is if one of three things happen," he said. "One, one side wins in a bloodbath, ... two, the desire to fight expires, ... or three, you install a federal system."

Biden said his plan for Iraq and years of service on the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, which he chairs, would allow him to make a compelling case to voters.

"I think the next president will have to show a depth and breadth of knowledge in national security matters," he said. "They'll need to have the right plans and right ideas."

Biden said he believes his campaign will overcome remarks he made earlier this month about fellow contender Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. Biden called Obama the "first mainstream" black to run for president, and referred to him as "clean" and "articulate."

Biden reiterated his previous apologies and noted that his campaign had secured the support of prominent black leaders since his comments.

"I think we're beyond that," he said. "And the good news is that I have a 35-year record on civil rights.

"But I'm not going to compliment anyone anymore. I should have been more sensible."

Biden's trip to Iowa is his first since formally announcing a presidential bid. The trip got off to a bumpy start Friday: An event at a veterans home in Marshalltown was canceled after bad weather forced Biden's airplane to land in Indiana.

Biden was also scheduled to depart Iowa early Saturday morning to return to Washington for a rare Saturday session of the Senate. Democrats need 60 votes to advance a nonbinding resolution criticizing President Bush's plan to boost the number of U.S. forces in Iraq.

"It's just too important," Biden said of the Iraq vote.

The vote meant Biden had to cancel several events he had been scheduled to attend on Saturday, though he planned to fly back to Davenport for a Democratic Party event. He also had a handful of events scheduled on Sunday in Iowa, which will open the presidential nominating season in January with its precinct caucuses.

© 2007 The Associated Press