Gephardt critical of Bush policy in Iraq

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(Host) Democratic presidential candidate Richard Gephardt strongly criticized the Bush administration’s Iraq policy on Tuesday. Gephardt, who voted for a congressional resolution authorizing the war, faces a strong challenge in Iowa and New Hampshire from former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.

Gephardt spoke to regional reporters in a conference call on Tuesday before he gave a foreign policy speech in San Francisco. He said he still supports the war, but that President Bush has failed to work with allies to secure the peace.

(Gephardt) “It’s obvious now that we need help. You know, you hope that the thing would settle down, and that he would have gone to the U.N. I think it’s important for all of us to try to get this policy right. And that’s what I’m trying to do. It’s what I’ve been trying to do for a year and a half.”

(Host) Dean has criticized Gephardt and other Democratic rivals for their support of the Iraq war resolution. Gephardt said he still believes the war was justified, despite recent questions about whether Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Africa.

(Gephardt) “There was lots of other information over a 12 year period that they had weapons of mass destruction, that they had components of weapons of mass destruction, they had the capacity to quickly make weapons of mass destruction. All that was out there, and it was on that basis that I had and others, you know, came to the conclusion that I came to.”

(Host) Gephardt says Republicans should welcome a congressional inquiry into pre-war intelligence issues. He said the administration’s credibility is at stake.

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