It’s past noon EST, and according to the most recent news stories neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton have taken sides on the Iraq funding bill. This is from the Associated Press:
Democratic presidential contenders on Capitol Hill are vying for the anti-war vote, but at the same time do not want to appear as though they are turning their backs on the military.
“I believe as long as we have troops in the front line, we’re going to have to protect them,” said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del. “We’re going to have to fund them.”
Biden was alone among the potential Democratic candidates in immediately pledging his support for the bill.
Two front-runners, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, declined to say how they intended to vote on the measure.
Both have voted against binding timetables for troop withdrawals in the past, before public sentiment against the war hardened or they became presidential contenders. Last week, the two voted to advance legislation that would have cut off money for U.S. combat operations by March 31, 2008, cutoff.
Challengers Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio said they would oppose the measure because in their view it issued a blank check to President Bush on the Iraq war.
John Edwards has released a strongly worded statement against it. But I found nothing one way or another on the official sites of Obama, Clinton, or Bill Richardson. There’s nothing on Mike Gravel’s site, either, but I don’t think it’s been updated for a couple of days.
IMO Barack Obama in particular really needs to make a strong statement today or it’s going to hurt him badly. He’s the one branding himself as the New Breath of Fresh Air. If he’s cautious now he’s going to become the new Hillary Clinton. Clinton herself is the “return to normalcy” candidate; she’s expected to be cautious. Being vague right now won’t help her, but it probably won’t cost her among her supporters. Not that I ever meet any Clinton supporters, but I understand they’re out there. And Bill Richardson, who seems likable, needs to step it up if he’s serious.