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Fort Dodge Messenger: Biden Opposes War, Voted Funding to Protect Troops

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Fort Dodge Messenger: Biden Opposes War, Voted Funding to Protect Troops

By BILL SHEA

To U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, the Iraq conflict is a big boulder blocking America's future progress.

The Democratic presidential candidate from Delaware has repeatedly demanded its end.

And yet, he voted for the bill that provides $100 billion to pay for it. He even added money to the measure to buy 2,500 military vehicles specially designed to withstand roadside bomb blasts.

He did that, he said Wednesday in Fort Dodge, because protecting U.S. troops in the war zone is a ‘‘sacred responsibility.''

He told a noontime crowd of about 50 people at Marvin Gardens, 809 Central Ave., that he voted for the bill because he refuses to ‘‘play chicken'' with the lives of the troops. He said he's the only Democratic candidate for president who voted for the bill, and added that he doesn't care if he loses a primary or a caucus because of that vote.

‘‘There are some things worth losing elections over,'' he said.

Biden made it clear, however, that he remains firmly opposed to the war.

‘‘We can stop this war,'' he said. ‘‘We have to stop this war.''

He said Democrats must ‘‘keep punching'' the administration of President George W. Bush to force Bush to end the conflict. Democrats in Congress, he said, have to pressure their Republican colleagues to stop supporting Bush's war policy.

Biden's solution for Iraq is to create a new government there that allows the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis to have ‘‘control over the fabric of their daily lives.''

He proposes dividing the country into essentially autonomous regions along ethnic lines, with one area for each of the three major groups.

In such a system, he said, the central government would be mostly responsible for dividing the oil revenues between the three regions.

To support his plan, he points to recent history in the Balkans. There, the Serbs, Croats and Muslims of the former Yugoslavia have set up separate regions and are living in peace, he said.

Biden said he's outlined his plan to foreign diplomats, who have welcomed it.

‘‘I know how to get this done,'' he said.

Successfully ending the Iraq situation would clear the way for the United States to deal with potential troubles brewing in North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Russia, the candidate said.

Turning to other issues, Biden said if he's elected president he'll work to end tax cuts that benefit the rich. He said eliminating those would give the federal government an additional $200 billion a year.

He said $26 billion of that money could be used to make sure that every child in America has health insurance.

But taking care of veterans returning from Iraq would be his first priority, he said. He pledged to spend money on veterans' health care before he spent it on anything else.

He said he's in favor of an immigration policy that protects the borders and provides a multi-year path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country. He said employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants should be jailed or fined.

Tuesday's visit was Biden's second one in Fort Dodge since announcing his candidacy. He was in town on Oct. 30, 2006, for a vigil remembering those who died as a result of domestic violence.


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