CNN Larry King Live - Transcript
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
KING: We now welcome two extraordinary guests to LARRY KING LIVE.
In Washington is Tom O'Donoghue, a Republican congressional candidate for Virginia's 8th District. He's trying to unseat the veteran incumbent Democrat Jim Moran. He's a West Point graduate, a veteran of both Afghanistan and Iraq. He was awarded the Combat Action Badge and the Bronze Star.
And, in Chicago, is Tammy Duckworth, Democratic congressional candidate for Illinois' 6th District, an open seat. Her opponent is Republican Pete Roskam. She is an Iraq war veteran who lost both legs when a grenade hit the Black Hawk helicopter she was piloting outside Baghdad. "Glamour" magazine has named her one of its women of the year.
Tom, is Iraq a central issue in your race?
TOM O'DONOGHUE, (R) VIRGINIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Yes, certainly it's an issue that you can't avoid. The voters are concerned where we're going in Iraq, what's the plan to get ahead? They recognize it's important and they also want to hear solutions of, you know, how do we stabilize the region and how do we get our troops home? So, it's clearly an issue.
KING: Do you have strong differences with your opponent in that area?
O'DONOGHUE: Yes, yes. Actually, my opponent is, you know, wants to bring the troops home. He's very -- very quick to criticize what's gone wrong with the war, a lot of the problems, which is easy to do but he doesn't offer up solutions. He just wants to bring the troops home and hope that, you know, all goes well and I guess the Middle East suddenly stabilizes and the terrorists all go home, so obviously very different than my approach.
KING: Tammy, is Iraq central in your race?
TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely, Larry. You know, my campaign has been one focused on many issues but Iraq is definitely one of the top three. This is where I am actually someone who does bring a unique voice in it and so does Tom on this because we've served on the ground and we can ask those tough questions.
And, I've been putting forward concrete plans, concrete answers for how we get ourselves out of Iraq, resolve that situation and re- focus on the mission of destroying Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.
KING: Tom, CNN polling 64 percent of Americans are opposed to the war does that give you pause?
O'DONOGHUE: Well, I wouldn't say necessarily pause but certainly it's a concern and I think when you say, you know, everyone is opposed to the war at some level. I mean nobody wants a war. But I think when you talk to the people on the ground they recognize that, a) we're there and we need to, you know, stabilize that region and that region is critical to the future of the country. It's critical to the world and they recognize that we can't just walk away and hope for the best. So, they're looking actually for solutions. That seems to be what I hear from most of the voters is they want solutions.
KING: Do you have a solution, Tammy?
DUCKWORTH: I sure do, Larry. I want on January of 2007, Secretary Rumsfeld to be sitting in front of Congress and I want him to tell us exactly how many Iraqi security forces, that's national guard and police, can do their jobs independently.
And then I want a report from him on a quarterly basis with monthly progress reports sent to Congress reporting on how he has succeeded in the train-up of the Iraqi security forces.
The train-up of those forces should be our number one priority. It hasn't been. Paul Bremer this year actually said that it was about number four on his list of priorities when he was the administrator. I think it should be number one. And I think we need to start drawing down U.S. troops tied to the train-up of the Iraqi security forces.
So, when Secretary Rumsfeld in January of 2007, if he tells me that there are two Iraqi policemen manning a traffic checkpoint in Al Kut, then I want to start bringing two Americans home. But we need to set measurable goals that we can hold people accountable for.
KING: Tom Friedman of "The New York Times," the esteemed Pulitzer winner, recently wrote that "We may be seeing the Iraqi equivalent of the Tet Offensive of 1968 in Vietnam aimed at pushing the United States out of Iraq." What are your thoughts, Tom?
O'DONOGHUE: Yes, sure, I mean there are very few people that want the U.S. out of Iraq. I mean I can name a few, obviously. You know, Iran might be interested in it at some level and some of the insurgents. And, everyone knows the elections are going on. This is a critical issue. So, it's not surprising that a combination of U.S. elections plus Ramadan leads to an up tick in violence, so that is not surprising.
But ultimately, if you look at the region, everybody has an interest in, you know, averting a civil war, a full blown civil war in Iraq, so that is what we are working for. We need to work with our allies, even work with some of our enemies that don't necessarily have an interest in a full blown civil war that is certain to spill over.
I mean in modern times there's not a single civil war that has been contained within the country and hasn't adversely affected all of its neighbors, so those are the critical issues.
KING: Did your war service spearhead your interest in politics?
O'DONOGHUE: No, actually. I mean I've been -- I've been involved in public service and involved in politics, you know, going back 15 years or so, you know, since I left active duty in the military. So, I've always been interested. But, you know, when I came home from Iraq I recognized that a lot of the big issues weren't really being addressed. A lot of the politics had devolved to a tit-for-tat, next election this will give us an advantage that will give us an advantage.
But, there are some big issues. I mean not just the war on terrorism, the global situation in general. I mean not since the 1930s has the global situation looked like this.
Domestically we've got issues of, you know, illegal immigration, border security. We've got issues related to terrorism. All these issues need to be addressed in a bold and comprehensive way not a short term tit-for-tat kind of way that is very much endemic in Washington, D.C.
KING: Tammy, did your military service lead you to where you are now?
DUCKWORTH: Yes, it did, Larry. I, you know, was in non-profits before this and I would have gone back to that. But I spent four months laying in a hospital bed unable to move and watching a lot of C-Span.
I got very, very upset that my government was making decisions in my name that really were not reflective of where I am on the issues. And, frankly, you know, my buddies pulled me out of that field in Iraq and I feel responsibility to stand up and ask those tough questions that we need to ask about Iraq.
We need more accountability and we need a Congress that will start doing its job and that means we need to demand reports from the secretary of defense and we need monthly reports. We need to know exactly are we making any progress or are we not because frankly we can't be there forever.
And, Larry, you know, earlier you said that the whole stay the course policy is changing. Well it isn't changing. Here in Illinois the Illinois Republican Party, I know you probably can't see this, Larry, but I'm holding this up, today we got a piece of mail that actually accused the Democrats of cutting and running. And, on the inside, it says "We need to stay until the mission is accomplished."
Well, I was shot down 18 months after that "Mission Accomplished" banner. I'm not someone who has cut and run but I think we need real strategy, a real plan for how we resolve the conflict in Iraq so that we can get back to the business of fighting terror in Afghanistan.
KING: We'll be focusing on both your races two weeks from tonight and good luck, Tom O'Donoghue and Tammy Duckworth. Tom is running in Virginia, Tammy in Illinois.