Lamont Sets New Record for Waffling on Iraq

In his speech on the future of Iraq yesterday, Joe Lieberman provided a strong argument against giving up — as Ned Lamont wants us to do — and a clear, consistent and comprehensive plan for getting the job done there.

In responding to Lieberman’s speech, the only thing Lamont made clear is that his plan – for immediate withdrawal and an arbitrary deadline – is so indefensible that even Ned can’t defend it.

After Joe Lieberman pointed out the disastrous and deadly consequences of Ned’s plan for immediate withdrawal and arbitrary deadline, Ned seemed to backpeddle and backflip at the same time.

Ned said he still supported the Kerry-Feingold plan for all troops out nine-months from now, no matter the consequences.

But then he said he also supported a timeline of 12 months, or a timeline for 18 months, or a timeline based on whatever our military commanders recommended.

Here are Ned’s exact words: “I don’t care whether it’s six month, twelve months, or eighteen months. What’s important is you put in place a process and you can’t have a process as long as the Maliki government thinks we are going to be there forever.”

By our count, that is a new record for waffling on Iraq for Ned: four positions in one day on the one issue of his one-issue campaign.

Look closer at his answers, and it’s clear that his multiple positions just don’t add up.

You simply can’t say you are for a hard, arbitrary deadline of nine months mandated by Congress, and then say you are for several soft timelines set by the generals.   Those positions directly contradict each other.

This again points to the clear difference between Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont on this critical and difficult issue.

Yesterday Joe Lieberman provided a strong argument against giving up in Iraq, as Ned wants us to do, and clear, consistent and comprehensive plan for getting the job done there.

In response, Ned could only offer more evidence of his incoherence and his inexperience.

Here’s the question for Connecticut’s voters: can you trust someone to make the hard calls on national security who can’t tell the difference between a deadline and a timeline – and who can’t talk straight to his constituents about where he stands on the big issues?

LAMONT ON MONDAY: FOUR POSITIONS IN ONE DAY

Lamont Is on Record for Immediate Withdrawal of Frontline Troops and Setting Timeline for Withdrawal of All Combat Troops.  According to the New York Times, “Mr. Lamont has said he would support beginning the immediate withdrawal of ‘frontline’ troops and setting a timeline for the withdrawal of all combat troops.”  [New York Times, 9/26/06]

Lamont Has Also Said That the Withdrawal of All American Forces Should be Completed Next Year.  According to the Norwich Bulletin, “Lamont has long supported an immediate pull back of front line troops and complete withdrawal of all American forces next year.” [Norwich Bulletin, 9/26/06]

On Monday, Lamont Said He Still Supports A Resolution Calling for All Troops Out of Iraq by July 1, 2007.  According to the New York Times, Lamont “also said that he would have supported a Senate resolution in June that set a deadline of July 1, 2007, for troop withdrawal.”  The Hartford Courant reported that “Lamont said a one-year deadline for withdrawal as expressed in the Kerry-Feingold plan was reasonable.”  [New York Times, 9/26/06; Hartford Courant, 9/26/06

But Lamont Also Said Monday He Was “Not Committed to a July 2007 Deadline to Withdrawing Troops.” According to the Associated Press, Lamont “said Monday that he was not committed to a July 2007 deadline to withdrawing troops.”  [Associated Press, 9/26/06]

Lamont Then Said That He Did Not Back Any Specific Withdrawal Plan, Stating That He “Doesn’t Care” Whether the Deadline is Six Months, 12 Months or 18 Months. According to the Waterbury Republican, “Lamont wants to begin withdrawal of frontline troops from Iraq while maintaining U.S. forces in the region for support.  He expressed flexibility again Monday on when that should start and how long that redeployment should take.”  According to the New Haven Independent, “Lamont said he didn’t care whether the deadline, or timeline, was 12 or 18 months, as long as the commanders on the ground set a deadline.”  [Waterbury Republican, 9/26/06; New Haven Independent, 9/26/06]

And Lamont Said He Wants Commanders on the Ground, Not Congress, to Set a Deadline for Withdrawal.  According to the New Haven Independent, Lamont said he supported the Kerry-Feingold amendment that called for a Congressionally-mandated date of July 1, 2007, to withdraw troops from Iraq.  But also according to the New Haven Independent, “Lamont said he didn’t care whether the deadline, or timeline, was 12 or 18 months, as long as the commanders on the ground set a deadline.”  Lamont added, “Obviously, our generals on the ground have to take a lead role on that.”  [New Haven Independent, 9/26/06; New Haven Register, 9/26/06]

LAMONT THROUGHOUT THE CAMPAIGN: EIGHT POSITIONS AND COUNTING

In March, Lamont Said he was for Immediate Withdrawal.  In an interview with CQ, Lamont was asked, “What would you do in terms of policies with the war in Iraq.” Lamont said, “We start bringing our reservists and our National Guard home, and we push like heck for the Iraqis to sit down around a table.”  Lamont added, “I think we’ve got to get our troops out of harm’s way, out of the middle of this civil war, move them to the periphery…”  [CQ Politics, 3/15]

In May, Lamont Again Said He Was for Immediate Withdrawal.  The following is an exchange from the Diane Rehm Show.

Diane Rehm: So, let me understand clearly. If you were elected as a substitute to replace Senator Joseph Lieberman, and if the Democrats were to take over the House, would you push for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq?

Lamont: You know, I would. It’s going to be a phased withdrawal, but we’re going to start now. We start by bringing our troops out of harm’s way. As Jack Murtha said, we take them to the periphery, we start bringing them home. But, it was President Bush who said three years ago this is the end of our major military operations. I’m saying it right now, this should be the end of our major military operations. We’ll be there in a residual, backup role when it comes to humanitarian and reconstruction assistance, but yes, now I think is the time to start bringing our frontline troops home.”[Diane Rehm, 5/23/06, emphasis added]

Then In June, when the Senate Considered Two Amendments on America’s Involvement in Iraq, Lamont Took Two Different Positions in Two Days

Position 1: Lamont Said he Would Have Supported Kerry-Feingold Amendment that Would Have Required Withdrawal by July 1, 2007 Regardless of What was Happening.  “A second measure offered by Sens. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., and Russell Feingold, D-Wis., would have all U.S. troops out of Iraq by July 1, 2007. It got 13 votes.  ‘I would have supported them both, Lamont said. ‘You’ve heard me say before, I think it’s time to get our front line troops out of harm’s way.'”  [Hartford Courant, 6/23/06]

Position 2:  Lamont Would Not Have Supported Kerry-Feingold Amendment.  “Swan said that Lamont backed the Reed-Levin plan, which is expected to win the votes of at least 40 of the Senate’s 44 Democrats, even though it was ‘watered down.’ Lamont was ‘sympathetic’ to the Kerry proposal, Swan said, but ‘he wouldn’t necessarily vote for it, because he wants to be a uniter among Democrats.'” [Hartford Courant, 6/22/06]

Also in July, Lamont Said he Supported Both the Kerry-Feingold Amendment and the Reed-Levin Amendment.  In the debate during the Democratic primary, Lamont said he would have supported both the Kerry-Feingold amendment and the Levin-Reed Amendment. [Debate Transcript, 7/9/06]

In August, Lamont Also Said He Wanted Troops Out Within a Year. In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Lamont said, “We’re going to have our troops out within a year.”  [Fox News Sunday, 8/13/06]

Also in August, Lamont Said He Did NOT Want An Immediate Withdrawal of Troops.  The following is an exchange from CNN’s Situation Room:

Blitzer:  Let’s talk about the big issue that dominated the primary, namely
Iraq. You know the criticisms being leveled against you that you
basically want to cut and run. That’s what Republicans are saying.
That’s what a lot of those who support the war are suggesting. Do you want to simply pull out U.S. troops unilaterally right now, irrespective of what’s happening on the ground?

Lamont: No. Obviously not. We’ve been very clear.  [CNN Situation Room, 8/6/06]

In September, Lamont Said Again that he Favored an Immediate Withdrawal of American Troops from Iraq.  In an email to supporters sent on September 7th, Lamont campaign manager Tom Swan wrote the following about Lamont: “He believes it’s high time for an immediate withdrawal of US troops from the front lines, allowing the Iraqi people to stand up and take control of their country and removing the US face from the occupation.”  The Associated Press also reported that “Lamont backs an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.” [Tom Swan email to supporters, 9/7/06; Associated Press, 9/7/06]

And also In September, Lamont Said to the DC Press Corp that He Supported a Timetabled Withdrawal Over 18 Months. According to the Connecticut Post, Lamont, in an appearance in Washington on September 6th said he “remains opposed to the Iraq war and supports a withdrawal of troops, based on a timetable set in concert with the U.S. military and Iraqi government. He believes it could be done within 18 moths, as Gen. George Casey, commander of multi-national forces in Iraq, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki have suggested.” [Connecticut Post, 9/7/06]

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