Anti-War Democrats Ponder Next Step

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Democrats are talking about changing their strategy as they try to end the United States military involvement in Iraq.

Since the Bush administration's troop surge, violence in Iraq has declined. The Iraqi government has made some small progress toward political reconciliation, including elections scheduled for October 1. These improvements have also had an effect in the halls of Congress -- no new legislation has been introduced to start bringing troops home.

Many Democrat party members want to focus on Iraq policy issues. These include the preparedness of U.S. troops and controlling the activities of private contractors.

Can They Tie the Ailing Economy to the War?

Many Democrats want to put in voters minds that the ailing economy is due to the war. A coalition of anti-war groups said this week that it plans to spend more than $20 million this year to convince voters that the Republican party's support for the war is bad for their wallets.

Other Democrats, including Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., say they want to still try to get the needed votes to stop the flow of money for the war. Feingold sponsored a measure that the Senate is expected to vote on Tuesday. The bill is expected to be rejected by an estimated count of 60 votes.

The economy seems to be on voter's minds, rather than earlier anti-war sentiments.

But anti-war activists say Americans are becoming aware of the economic burden that the Iraq war has become. They believe voters will blame Republicans for supporting the war and increasing spending, while at the same time, the economy at home saw ever-rising health care and college costs -- including a mortgage foreclosure crisis, the effects from which still remain to be seen.

"Leaders who do not recognize this connection will be at a disadvantage come election day," said Jeff Blum, director of USAction, which plans to spend $10 million this year on organizing a grass-roots effort against Republican candidates.

Blum said the group intends to dispatch hundreds of thousands of volunteers to go door to door to convince voters that the GOP's war effort is hurting the economy.

MoveOn.org, another anti-war group, says it will spend at least $5 million targeting congressional seats, including Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, John Sununu of New Hampshire, Norm Coleman of Minnesota and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Brad Woodhouse, head of Americans United for Change, estimates his group will spend about $8.5 million, focusing primarily on political advertisements.

Jon Soltz, an Army reservist who heads of VoteVets.org, said his group will be running an ad in the Washington, D.C., area that will feature a female Iraq veteran urging Sen. John McCain, the expected GOP nominee for president, to abandon his commitment to Iraq.

"The Iraq war is basically a retreat policy against al-Qaeda and bin Laden," Soltz said.

Source: Associated Press

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