Tarrant criticizes Bush Administration war effort

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(Host) Republican US Senate candidate Richard Tarrant says he’s not sure if he would have voted against going to war in Iraq in the winter of 2003 if he had been a member of Congress.

But Tarrant says it’s clear that the war effort waged by the Bush Administration has been a big mistake.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Tarrant made his comments at his first full press conference since becoming a U.S. Senate candidate more than four months ago.

In March of 2003, all three members of Vermont’s congressional delegation voted against a bill authorizing President Bush to go to war in Iraq.

Congressman Bernie Sanders, who’s also running for the open Senate seat, strongly opposed the legislation at that time.

Tarrant says he didn’t have a clear opinion in the winter of 2003 regarding the war resolution:

(Tarrant) “I don’t know how I would have voted because I didn’t have the chance to ask the questions I would have asked and access to intelligence and all those kinds of things so I’m not going to second guess and wonder but I think America is pretty much agreed that if we had it to do over again we wouldn’t do it especially not in the way we did it.”

(Kinzel) Tarrant says the best strategy for the United States at this time is to redeploy military forces outside of Iraq to see if the Iraqi army can prevent a civil war in that country.

(Tarrant) “I think our soldiers have done a fabulous job I think we should redeploy out of harms way stay in the region so that we can offer strike force support air support or whatever but I think it’s time to take the training wheels off the Iraqi army and give them a push and see if they can ride the bike.”

(Kinzel) Tarrant also says Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should resign for the good of the country and to take political heat off of President Bush:

(Tarrant) “If I were Don Rumsfeld I would tender my resignation now. I am not saying that because I think he’s done a bad job. I don’t have the information that others have, but I think because politics is real, I think I would have him tender his resignation and then the president as commander in chief decides whether to accept it or not.”

(Kinzel) Tarrant says he also opposes a plan to deploy National Guard troops along the Mexican border to crack down on the flood of illegal workers coming into this country. Tarrant says he supports tougher enforcement efforts but he says it’s not fair to ask Guard troops to perform this duty.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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