Rainville says views on war have evolved over the last year

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(Host) Republican U.S. House candidate Martha Rainville says that her support for the war in Iraq hasn’t changed during the campaign.

But Rainville says her views have evolved as the situation on the ground in Iraq has changed over the past year.

Democratic candidate Peter Welch says Rainville is trying to appear to be both for and against the war.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) In a new TV ad that focuses on the war in Iraq, Rainville says she wants to “bring the troops home with honor as soon as possible.”

For the past few weeks, Rainville has said that she believes the U.S. military is close to achieving its objectives in Iraq and that it will be possible to begin withdrawing troops when these goals have been met.

Those goals include the training of the Iraqi army and the implementation of a stable government structure.

But Rainville says the Bush Administration has made some key mistakes in its handling of the war. She says it was wrong to adopt the phrase “Stay the course,” because this approach meant that the Administration was going to stick with a rigid plan even if events in Iraq required a change in policy.

(Rainville) “I have never agreed with stay the course. I can’t imagine any military commander ever agreeing to that. We need to look at where we are in Iraq now. We’re closing in on those key qualifiers, those key objectives.”

(Kinzel) Rainville has refused to say how she would have voted on the Congressional Iraqi War Resolution in November of 2002. She says she wants to look forward not backward.

But she does say that the Bush Administration made a huge mistake by not keeping the American people informed about how the situation in Iraq changed once U.S. troops were deployed in that country.

(Rainville) “You have to willing to stand up and say, this is what we did. It’s not working anymore. This is how were changing.’ You don’t want to go into the details in a military situation but you have to be open with people. It’s that openness that was sorely lacking.”

(Kinzel) Democratic U.S. House candidate Peter Welch says he would have voted against the war as a member of Congress and he says the bottom line is that Rainville has been a consistent supporter of President Bush.

(Welch) “Martha is trying to have it both ways she’s trying to convey a sense that she wants to be a critic but she’s been steadfast from the very beginning of the campaign that she is with the president and the Republican Congress in support of the current policy.”

(Kinzel) Welch says he supports establishing a public timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops because the American presence in Iraq has been counterproductive in the war on terrorism.

(Welch) “The 16 intelligence agencies that we have in the United States did a study and they concluded that the war has made us less secure not more secure in respect to the fight on terror.”

(Kinzel) Welch says he thinks it’s realistic to believe that most U.S. troops can be brought home in the next 12 months.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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