Democratic presidential contenders, Sen. Barack Obama, John Edwards, Gov. Bill Richardson, Sen. Joe Biden and Sen. Chris Dodd all released statements about the benchmark progress report that the White House released today. Here is a round up of what they had to say. Sen. Barack Obama said, “Does this White House think that we don’t know how to turn on our televisions?  Don’t tell us we’re making progress in Iraq when the last three months have been some of the deadliest since this war began for our brave troops who have sacrificed so much.  And don’t tell us it’s progress when the Iraqi leadership has done nothing – nothing – to take the political steps necessary to end their civil war.  This war has only fueled the terrorist threat whose strength is now at pre-9/11 levels.  It should never have been authorized, never have been waged, and it must end now.”

Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) said that this report was a devastating admission of failure, not only in Iraq but as well as fighting al-Qaeda. “This report is a devastating indictment of this Administration’s failure to accomplish its most important mission: destroying Al Qaeda and the threat it poses. And it makes a mockery of the Republican refrain that they are much tougher on terrorists than Democrats. President Bush’s war in Iraq is denying us the freedom, flexibility and credibility to meet the major threats to our security, starting with radical jihadists like Al Qaeda who use terror as a tool and seek weapons of mass destruction. We must make it our priority to end the war in Iraq and refocus the energy, ingenuity and resources of this country on defeating Al Qaeda once and for all.” 

Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) said that the president was looking at the report through rose colored glasses. “The President apparently read the benchmark report through rose colored glasses, and is now trying to spin the progress- or lack of progress — in Iraq to support his failed strategy and continue the status quo. Even if we believe the President’s claim that eight benchmarks out of 18 showed ‘satisfactory’ progress- in any classroom that’s still a failing grade. The harsh reality is that the Iraqi government has failed to take the action required to begin unifying the country and create a strong central government. The so-called surge is not showing the results we were promised. Terrorism is flourishing, and deadly violence continues.”

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) continued, Gov. Richardson’s rose colored glasses theme. “It is clear that George W. Bush is blinded by his own rose colored glasses. The nation would be better served if he took them off and faced the harsh light of the reality he has created. This war has made us less secure, more isolated and more vulnerable than before. As he has focused the resources of the nation on Iraq, expending more than $450 billion on a failed policy, Al Qaeda is reportedly rebuilding strength. As he has placed our faith in the Iraqi government, Iraqi officials continue to fail to meet the most basic of benchmarks of progress. As we faced the bloodiest months of the war and have lost over 3,600 of our young men and women, he continues to call for more of the same. It is clear that the President is not going to change course and half-measures are not going to force him to do so.”

John Edwards spoke about President Bush’s press conference earlier today, “The president’s remarks today defending his Iraq policy without regard to actual facts border on the delusional. The president claimed that the same people attacking U.S. troops today are the ones who perpetrated 9/11. It must be nice to live in a world where your actions have no consequences. There was no group called Al Qaeda in Iraq before the president’s disastrous mismanagement of the war gave them a foothold, a fact the president flagrantly ignores. After being discredited again and again, the president is still trying to link Iraq and 9/11 – a rationale for the war that virtually everyone except Dick Cheney has now recognized was false.”
 

Note: The campaigns of Clinton, Gravel, and Kucinich did not have statements available at this time. The full text of each statement can be found on the respective candidates’ websites.  
 

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics
 

Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 7:00 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse
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