Gubernatorial candidates differ on Iraq in debate

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(Host) Speaking in a political debate last night in Rutland, three of the candidates for governor split over the recent congressional resolutions on Iraq.

Vermont’s congressional delegation opposed the resolutions, which provide the president with the authority to take military action against Iraq. In the debate, which was sponsored by Vermont Public Radio, WCAX-TV and the Rutland Herald, Independent Con Hogan said he supported the process:

(Hogan) “As painful as it is, I support the resolution – not because I like it, not because it is what we want to be doing with our lives and our young people, but because we have a process. The commander in chief now has that responsibility, it’s an awesome responsibility, and I think candidates should be darn careful not to second guess these processes at this stage of the game.”

(Host) Republican Jim Douglas emphasized that the Iraq resolutions had strong bipartisan support.

(Douglas) “I believe we need support from the international community, as we had over a decade ago in the Gulf War. And secondly, I don’t want to see us enter into a conflict unless we a have a plan of action in a post-Saddam Iraq. We don’t now just go in there and remove their leader. We have to have a plan to deal with that nation and that people after a Saddam regime is over.”

(Host) But Democrat Doug Racine stood with the Vermont delegation and said the resolutions give the president too much power:

(Racine) “What the resolution does is give the president of the United States a blank check. Nobody is saying that we shouldn’t be working with the president, but the president has to work with Congress. Congress has the constitutional responsibility to declare war. What Congress gave the president in this resolution is a blank check to go about and do whatever he thinks is right. I would prefer that if a war is necessary, the president should make his case to Congress and get the approval of Congress before we go down that path.”

(Host) The gubernatorial candidates will meet again on Vermont Public Radio on October 29.

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