DesMoinesRegister.com- Officially in Race, Thompson Says Iraq Must Choose
By JARED STRONG
Republican presidential candidate Tommy Thompson said Wednesday he wants to let Iraq's government decide whether U.S. troops should remain in the country.
During his official campaign announcement in Clive, the former Wisconsin governor said the vote would be the first part of a three-step plan to ensure "our troops can leave sooner rather than later."
"We should ask those leaders to decide whether or not they want America in their country," he said. "I'm confident they'll vote yes ... but if that government votes we should pull out, we should pull out."
Furthermore, Thompson proposed a federal government for Iraq and its 18 provinces, each of which would be controlled by one of the three prominent Muslim sects in the country: the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis.
"You would have the opportunity for individuals to move into those territories which are controlled by their religious theocracy, and you would get away from this inane civil war," he said.
Finally, Thompson wants to split Iraq's oil revenue into thirds for its national government, the provincial governments and the citizens. He said Iraqis would consequently watch government leaders more closely and "band together to defend the oil wells so they would not be blown up."
Longtime friend and former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad introduced Thompson at the early afternoon campaign stop at the 7 Flags Event Center, following a similar event in the morning in Wisconsin. Thompson had been visiting Iowa since December while considering a run for the White House in 2008.
Indianola hay farmer Craig Milligan was one of more than 300 supporters in Clive for the campaign kickoff.
"I think he has a lot of good common sense," Milligan said. "He's not flashy, but that's not what we need."
Thompson, 65, paints himself as the only "reliable conservative" among the field of Republican candidates for president.
Thompson touted a record of cutting taxes in Wisconsin during his 14 years as governor and said he would make permanent President Bush's federal income tax cuts. Thompson also proposed giving a choice to taxpayers: pay the current income tax amount or a flat tax, whichever is lower.
On the issue of renewable energy, Thompson said he and Branstad supported the use of ethanol for fuel "far before it was fashionable" as co-founders of the Ethanol Coalition in 1991.
Thompson's gubernatorial run ended in 2001 when he was appointed secretary of Health and Human Services by Bush. On Wednesday, Thompson urged a shift to a preventive health care system to lessen serious illness and lower medical bills. He said emergency room visits by uninsured citizens who fail to get regular checkups greatly inflate health care costs.
To "heal some of the wounds with our global neighbors," Thompson also proposed sending thousands of new doctors from the country's top medical schools on medical ships to impoverished countries to provide health care.