Clavelle ties Iraq war to domestic policy questions

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(Host) Gubernatorial candidate Peter Clavelle says the war in Iraq is draining much needed resources from Vermont’s domestic programs. In campaign stops at two southern Vermont colleges, Clavelle criticized Governor Jim Douglas for his support of the president’s foreign policy.

VPR’s Susan Keese has more.

(Keese) Clavelle began his speech at Bennington’s Southern Vermont College with a moment of silence for Sgt. Michael Voss. The Enosburg Falls high school graduate was killed in Iraq on Friday.

Clavelle said he was proud of Vermonters serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. He also mentioned the families they’ve left behind.

(Clavelle) “I could not be more proud of the families of these Vermonters who are serving today, who are struggling to keep things together while their loved ones are in Iraq and Afghanistan, caring for their children, paying the bills. They are the reason that we must speak plainly and honestly about what’s happening in Iraq.”

(Keese) Clavelle says the Vermonters he talks to are worried about Iraq. He faulted the Bush administration for painting a too-rosy picture about how the war is going. And he criticized Republican Governor Jim Douglas for supporting that stance.

The governor’s campaign says that Douglas is rightly focused on domestic issues rather than foreign policy. Neale Lunderville chairs the Douglas campaign.

(Lunderville) “The governor is focused on issues that a governor can affect right here in Vermont. Those issues are things like bringing down the cost of health care in this state, creating more and better jobs and working to provide tax relief to Vermonters. Those are the issues that a governor can affect right home, and those are the issues that are facing Vermont right now.”

(Keese) But Clavelle said the war is affecting Vermont by siphoning off millions that could be spent on health care and other state priorities.

(Clavelle) “This is already happening. Vermont is facing deep cuts in federal housing funds. Let me ask, why are we cutting the Section 8 housing program and putting the housing of 700 Vermonters at risk? Why can this not be a priority? Why do we not have the moneys necessary in our transportation budget to fix the existing infrastructure and build the new highways to move traffic around the state of Vermont? Why are we experiencing cutbacks in education funds and public safety funds and environmental protection funds? And the list could go on and on.”

(Keese) Clavelle was campaigning with former Vermont governor Phil Hoff.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Susan Keese.

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