Parker touches on Iraq war in campaign

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(Host) Is the war in Iraq an appropriate issue for Vermont’s gubernatorial campaign?

Democrat Scudder Parker says the answer is definitely yes. But Republican incumbent Jim Douglas says foreign policy is not part of a governor’s job description

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) While the war in Iraq has emerged as a top issue in Vermont’s races for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House this year, it hasn’t gained much prominence in the gubernatorial contest.

Recent polls indicate that Vermonters oppose the war by roughly a 2-1 margin.

Democrat Scudder Parker says he has a simple question for Jim Douglas:

(Parker) “What is your position on the war in Iraq? You have consistently supported it. You’ve supported the Bush Administration on this war. You have gone over and visited our soldiers there, which I think was a good thing. But you have taken no stand on the effects of the war on Vermonters and on the communities of Vermont and on the priorities of this nation and our standing in the world. And as governor I will speak out against this war because I think our young people, our families, our soldiers need to be brought home.”

(Kinzel) Douglas says he also wants to see U.S. troops come home soon but he says Parker is raising questions about the war to distract voters from more pressing state issues:

(Douglas) “I guess I’d ask, what’s he running for?’ I suppose that if a candidate has nothing to offer in terms of capping property taxes or making Vermont more affordable, putting a college education within reach of every Vermonter, making more affordable housing, continuing to improve our quality and access to health care, then he might want to talk about foreign policy. But that’s not what the governor of Vermont deals with on a day to day basis.”

(Kinzel) Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis believes it’s hard for gubernatorial candidates to make a connection with voters on international issues.

(Davis) “If Scudder Parker is concerned about the issue from sort of a moral point of view, that might help voters better understand what sort of individual Scudder Parker is, and take that into account as they decide whether or not to vote for him for governor. But to say that if we weren’t in the Iraq war there would necessarily be more money coming to the state of Vermont for various grant programs, that might be a bit of a stretch because the Republican Congress might have decided simply to put that money into even more tax cuts.”

(Kinzel) Davis notes that two years ago former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Clavelle tried unsuccessfully to link Jim Douglas to the policies of the Bush Administration.

Davis says it was a difficult link to establish then and he believes it remains a tough issue to raise in 2006.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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