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Democrats Targeted In GOP Debate

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By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 6, 2007

DES MOINES, Aug. 5 -- The Republican candidates for president used a nationally televised morning debate to mock Democrats on foreign policy, taxes and health care while sparring with each other over abortion and the administration's anti-terrorism efforts.

From a stage in Iowa, the state where the nation's first voting will begin in five months, the GOP candidates said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that their Democratic rivals support plans for "socialized" medicine and predicted that taxes would be raised if a Democrat returns to the White House.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), in particular, was singled out for saying last week that he would act against terrorists in Pakistan without the support of its president. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney contrasted those comments with Obama's remark during a recent debate that he would be willing to meet with all foreign leaders.

"I mean, in one week he went from saying he's going to sit down, you know, for tea, with our enemies, but then he's going to bomb our allies," Romney said. "He's gone from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove in one week."

Bill Burton, a spokesman for Obama, quickly responded that "the fact that the same Republican candidates who want to keep 160,000 American troops in the middle of a civil war couldn't agree that we should take out Osama bin Laden if we had him in our sights, proves why Americans want to turn the page on the last seven years of Bush-Cheney foreign policy."

Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani sparked loud applause when he declared that "the knee-jerk liberal Democratic reaction -- raise taxes to get money -- very often is a very big mistake." And Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) declared his disappointment in the Democratic push to end the war in Iraq.

"Not a single Democrat candidate paused in their rush for the exit to say to our Marines, 'Good job. You guys are fighting and achieving, with blood, sweat and tears, what this country needs,' " Hunter said.

As in past encounters, the Republicans largely agreed on the need to continue the Iraq war, saying that leaving the country too quickly would disrupt the fight against terrorism.

Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), whose front-runner status has slipped away in a wave of fundraising and staff woes, stuck to his guns on the war, saying there will be catastrophic consequences if America abandons Iraq.

"We are winning. We must win. And we will not set a date for surrender, as the Democrats want us to do," McCain said.

Echoing him, Giuliani said: "The reality is that you do not achieve peace through weakness and appeasement. . . . We should seek a victory in Iraq and in Baghdad, and we should define the victory."

The lone voice in continued opposition to the war, Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.), was again outspoken about America's involvement.


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