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Analysis: Clinton Tries to Rectify Past
Clinton aides have long insisted voters care more about how to end the war than revisiting how it started. But privately, they have fretted considerably about what the vote has cost her among primary voters.
As a result, Clinton has sharpened her anti-war rhetoric over the course of the campaign, even bringing delegates to their feet at the California Democratic Convention last weekend with a call to "End this war now!"
Her legislation takes her evolution a step farther, pairing her with a visible anti-war stalwart, Byrd, and offering a decisive end to a seemingly intractable conflict.
Bush vetoed legislation this week that would have tied funding for the war to a timetable for the withdrawal of troops. Clinton voted for the legislation, as did all the other Democratic contenders who are members of the Senate.
None has said what they will do if the next version they are asked to vote on drops the timetable for troop withdrawals.
Another 2008 contender, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, first broached the idea of deauthorizing the war at a speech to the Democratic National Committee in February.
In a telephone interview Friday, Richardson generally praised Clinton's bill but said it didn't go far enough. He advocated a binding resolution that would reinforce Congress's authority to start wars and end them _ a strategy that could require the Supreme Court to intervene.
"It has to be a war powers resolution, and it means fighting the administration on Constitutional grounds and foreign policy grounds," Richardson said. "The public would understand what that means, rather than all these convoluted timetables and benchmarks."
Another contender, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., has called publicly for congressional authorization for the war to be revoked but has not introduced legislation to do so.
For his part, Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd insisted that the legislation authored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., was the most effective vehicle to end the war. Dodd is the only Democratic presidential contender to support the legislation, which would end war funding and redeploy all troops by next March 31.
"I will continue to support Feingold-Reid ... and I urge the other candidates to do the same," Dodd said in an e-mail to supporters Friday.
Associated Press Writer Cain Burdeau in New Orleans contributed to this report.