The Conservative Democrat | Dan Boren

By Jonathan Weisman and Elizabeth Williamson
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, August 5, 2007

Marty McGuinness launched a full-court press on Rep. Dan Boren last week after reading in the newspaper that Boren would back a proposal mandating a change of mission for U.S. troops.

Boren talks with McGuinness, a White House liaison assigned to work with the conservative Oklahoma Democrat, several times a week. Last week, McGuinness had a special message: Hold off the proposal, sponsored by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), that does not call for a troop withdrawal deadline but would shift military efforts away from combat and toward counterterrorism and training Iraqi forces. He urged Boren to at least wait until Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, could deliver his progress report on the war in September.

Only one week earlier, Boren had signed on to the Nelson-Collins proposal, promising to push it in the House.

But during the calls, he assured McGuinness that he would not move too fast. Boren, a second-term lawmaker, has been loyal to President Bush and said that he would remain open-minded. He made McGuinness a promise: "I told the White House . . . I'm not going to introduce that bill at the earliest until after the [Petraeus] report, and I'm only going to introduce that language if . . . we can have a bipartisan group coalesce around" it.

Boren also wants the Democratic leadership to back it, a highly unlikely prospect. He knows "that's a lot of ifs."

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