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Much talk, but how much support for Iraq attack?

By Dana Bash
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A senior Democratic senator who says he takes pride in having been "right all along" on the politics of Iraq recently told a handful of reporters that despite all the talk, he thinks Republicans will be reluctant to cast their votes in support of going to war against the Saddam Hussein regime.

Iraq President Saddam Hussein
Iraq President Saddam Hussein  

The senator, who asked not to be identified, said when he was in his home district he did not hear anyone saying, "I want war! Go get 'em!"

He said Americans are skeptical enough to want their lawmakers to have a say in whether the United States engages in military action against Iraq because they want them held accountable for the government equivalent of a "corporate decision."

"If I'm a Republican in a tough race, do I want to vote for a Gulf of Tonkin-like resolution?" he asked, referring to the 1964 congressional resolution that allowed expansion of America's role in the Vietnam War.

He said if he were a Republican spinning the press, countering Democrats' charges that the timing on all the Iraq talk is a political ploy to help the GOP in the November elections, he would be pointing out the political danger in supporting an open-ended assault with no end game.

  • While House leaders on both sides of the aisle told CNN they got heads-up calls from the administration on its decision to increase the threat alert, a similar bipartisan effort did not seem to extend to the Senate.
  • Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott
    Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott  

    Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, told reporters Tuesday he was called by Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge and Attorney General John Ashcroft about raising the alert level to orange.

    But Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, said he got no such call. A spokeswoman for Daschle later clarified that his office was indeed called -- but not until after CNN reported the news.

  • While most Democrats were patting themselves on the back for their shrewd political move Tuesday to help key colleagues up for re-election in drought-ridden states win Senate approval of $6 billion to aid their farmers, one of their own was not necessarily joining in the fun.
  • Sources said Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, wanted the Democratic leadership to focus its message -- and more importantly, its dollars -- on unfunded education priorities.

    Kennedy met with Daschle and has raised the argument with others that while helping farmers is important to some key races, education is an issue in nearly every race.

    Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle
    Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle  

    Kennedy wants Democrats to give education a higher priority, pointing out that Bush's poll numbers on education, high once, are now down, and Dems have an political opportunity to take control of the issue again.

    Daschle defended his move, calling the drought and education "apples and oranges."

    "We have a crisis economically in the West and Midwest as a result of the drought. Just like a hurricane, just like a flood, just like an earthquake, we had to respond as we did with this drought," Daschle told reporters.



     
     
     
     


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