Iowa Public Television

 

Rep. Jim Leach & David Loebsack

posted on October 27, 2006

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Borg: DECISION TIME IN IOWA'S SECOND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT. SHOULD A REPUBLICAN REPRESENT A DEMOCRATIC LEANING DISTRICT? WE'LL QUESTION INCUMBENT SECOND DISTRICT CONGRESSMAN REPUBLICAN JIM LEACH AND DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGER DAVID LOEBSACK ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; AND BY CAPITOL RESOURCES, INC., LOCATED IN BROOKLYN, IOWA; AND BY NICOLE SCHLINGER AND ERIC LANGE INDIVIDUALLY, FUND-RAISING AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES FOR MAJOR CAMPAIGNS SINCE 1996.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION THIS IS THE FRIDAY OCTOBER 27 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DEAN BORG.

 

Borg: ACROSS THE NATION, MUCH SPECULATING OVER POTENTIAL MIDTERM CHANGES IN POLITICAL CONTROL OF THE U.S. CONGRESS. IN EASTERN IOWA'S SECOND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, IOWA'S SENIOR CONGRESSMAN REPUBLICAN JIM LEACH OF IOWA CITY IS CHALLENGED BY CORNELL COLLEGE POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR DEMOCRAT DAVID LOEBSACK OF MOUNT VERNON. THE SECOND DISTRICT, THE REGION INCLUDING CEDAR RAPIDS AND IOWA CITY, HAS MORE REGISTERED DEMOCRATS THAN REPUBLICANS. SO TO HOLD THAT SEAT, REPUBLICANS COUNT ON INDEPENDENTS AND DEMOCRATIC CROSSOVERS. GENTLEMEN, WELCOME TO 'IOWA PRESS.' AND ACROSS THE 'IOWA PRESS' TABLE: 'DES MOINES REGISTER' POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN AND 'ASSOCIATED PRESS' SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER MIKE GLOVER.

Glover: MR. LOEBSACK, LET'S START WITH YOU. PERHAPS A DOMINANT ISSUE IN AMERICAN POLITICS TODAY IS THE WAR IN IRAQ. IS THERE SOME FORMULA FOR GETTING THE U.S. OUT OF IRAQ? HOW DO WE EXTRICATE OURSELVES FROM THAT WAR?

Loebsack: WELL, I DO BELIEVE THAT WE NEED TO BEGIN TO DISENGAGE IMMEDIATELY, PREFERABLY THIS AFTERNOON. THEN I DO BELIEVE THAT WE NEED TO SET, AS A GOAL AT LEAST, BEING OUT OF IRAQ WITHIN THE NEXT TWELVE MONTHS. I'M VERY HEARTENED BY THE FACT THAT GEORGE BUSH HAS MADE SOME RUMBLINGS IN THAT DIRECTION IN THE PAST WEEK OR SO. HE'S NOT TALKING ABOUT 'STAYING THE COURSE' ANY LONGER. I DO BELIEVE THAT THAT'S IN PART BECAUSE HE SEES THE POLITICAL REALITY OUT THERE. HE SEES THAT IT IS, IN FACT, LIKELY TO BE THE CASE THAT HIS PARTY WILL LOSE THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND POSSIBLY THE SENATE THIS YEAR, AND THAT'S IN LARGE PART BECAUSE OF THE WAR PERHAPS. AND SO I'M HAPPY, THOUGH, THAT HE IS MOVING IN THAT DIRECTION. AND I DO BELIEVE THAT IF WE HAVE A DEMOCRATIC HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, PERHAPS A DEMOCRATIC SENATE AS WELL, THAT WE WILL BE ABLE TO NEGOTIATE MORE EFFECTIVELY WITH GEORGE BUSH ON THIS PARTICULAR ISSUE.

Glover: CONGRESSMAN LEACH, THE SAME QUESTION TO YOU. ASSUMING THAT THE WAR IN IRAQ IS PROBABLY THE DOMINANT ISSUE IN AMERICAN POLITICS TODAY, IS IT ASSUMED THERE WILL BE A PERMANENT AMERICAN PRESENCE THERE? IF NOT, WHAT'S THE ROAD MAP OUT OF IRAQ?

Leach: WELL, FIRST LET ME SAY THAT THE NEOCONS WHO DEVISED THIS STRATEGY WERE LOOKING AT THE IDEA OF A SEMIPERMANENT AMERICAN PRESENCE. I THINK IT'S ONE OF THE FRAILEST IDEAS EVER PROPITIATED IN AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY. OCCUPATION IS NOT SOMETHING THAT IS WELL RECEIVED IN THE MIDDLE EAST. IT'S ONE OF THE REASONS I VOTED AGAINST THE WAR TO BEGIN WITH. IT'S ONE OF THE REASONS THAT I FIRST CALLED FOR A STRUCTURED WITHDRAWAL AS EARLY AS 19 -- OR 2003. I BELIEVE WE MUST WIND DOWN OUR PRESENCE. AND THE RATIONALE FOR DOING IT IS, WHETHER IT WAS RIGHT OR WRONG GOING IN, AND I'M DOUBTFUL IT WAS RIGHT, ONCE YOU'VE PUT IN PLACE A DEMOCRATIC STRUCTURE, THE LONGER YOU STAY, YOU BEING AN OCCUPYING POWER RATHER THAN A DEMOCRACY POWER. AND THIS IS VASTLY RESENTED WITHIN IRAQ. IT'S VASTLY RESENTED OUTSIDE OF IRAQ. AND THOSE COMBINATION OF CIRCUMSTANCES MAKE IT VERY DANGEROUS FOR THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL INTEREST AT HOME AND ABROAD.

Glover: BUT HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT THAT? DO YOU SET A TIMETABLE? I MEAN THAT SEEMS TO RING ALL KINDS OF BELLS WHEN YOU SAY I'M GOING TO SET A TIMETABLE. DO YOU BEGIN PHASED WITHDRAWALS, REDEPLOYMENTS? MECHANICALLY HOW DO YOU DO IT?

Leach: WELL, FIRST YOU MAKE IT VERY CLEAR THAT YOU'RE GOING TO START A WITHDRAWAL PROCESS, AND YOU MAKE IT VERY CLEAR YOU'RE GOING TO END THE WITHDRAWAL PROCESS IN A CREDIBLE TIME PERIOD. WHENEVER YOU START, I THINK THE OUTSIDE LIMIT SHOULD BE ABOUT A YEAR, BUT YOU CAN DO IT IN LESS TIME. BUT YOU HAVE TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT YOU'RE DOING IT. IF YOU DON'T, THE OTHER SIDE WILL CLAIM THAT THEY'RE FORCING YOU OUT. IF YOU DON'T MAKE DEMOCRACY A RATIONALIZATION FOR DISENGAGEMENT, THEY WILL ALSO CLAIM THAT YOU'RE GETTING OUT ON THEIR TERMS RATHER THAN YOUR TERMS. AND SO IT'S KEY THAT YOU GET OUT IN YOUR TERMS. IN YOUR TIMETABLE. THAT TIME DOESN'T HAVE TO BE PRECISE, BUT IT HAS TO BE PRETTY CLEAR.

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN LEACH, THE U.S. IMAGE ABROAD IS IN TATTERS. WHAT CAN BE DONE TO REPAIR IT?

Leach: WELL, I THINK WE HAVE TO ASK WHAT IS THE MEANING OF AMERICA. AND THE MEANING OF AMERICA IS BUILDING UP OUR OWN SOCIETY AS KIND OF A BEACON FOR OTHERS, AND IT MEANS REACHING OUT AND HELPING PEOPLE IN DIFFICULTY. INTERVENTIONISM IS NOT THE AMERICAN WAY. THIS IS, AFTER ALL, THE FIRST WAR IN AMERICAN HISTORY THAT WE INITIATED. WELL, MAYBE THE SPANISH AMERICAN TO A SLIGHT EXTENT, BUT THIS IS THE FIRST SIGNIFICANT CONFLICT THAT WE INITIATED. AND I THINK IT'S SOMETHING WE HAVE TO THINK THROUGH. ALSO, IF WE LOOK THROUGH HISTORY IN THE 20TH CENTURY, WHETHER IT BE VIETNAM OR THE SOVIET EXPERIENCE IN AFGHANISTAN, THE POWER OF NATIONALISM, THE DESIRE OF PEOPLE TO MAKE THEIR OWN MISTAKES IS VERY LARGE. IT'S AWFULLY DIFFICULT TO IMPOSE VALUES FROM THE OUTSIDE BY FORCE OF ARMS.

Yepsen: MR. LOEBSACK, SAME QUESTION TO YOU. HOW DO WE REPAIR THE U.S. IMAGE ABROAD?

Loebsack: YEAH, BASICALLY IT'S GOING TO BE UP TO GEORGE BUSH AT THIS POINT TO CHART A DIFFERENT PATH IN THE WORLD. GEORGE BUSH'S APPROACH HAS BEEN, OF COURSE, LARGELY UNILATERAL. IT'S BEEN VERY SORT OF THE MACHO ORIENTED. HE'S ALIENATED ALMOST ALL OF OUR TRADITIONAL ALLIES. I THINK ONE OF THE WAYS THAT WE CAN BEGIN THAT PROCESS IF HE WOULD, IN FACT, DISMISS DONALD RUMSFELD AS SECRETARY OF DEFENSE. DONALD RUMSFELD AND DICK CHENEY AND GEORGE BUSH AND A NUMBER OF OTHERS, THE NEOCONS CONGRESSMAN MENTIONED, HAVE ALL DONE A REALLY -- A HUGE DISSERVICE TO AMERICA WITH THEIR PARTICULAR APPROACH TO THE REST THE WORLD. IT DIDN'T DO US ANY GOOD. IN FACT, I THINK IT'S DONE US A LOT OF HARM WHEN WE ENGAGE IN NAME CALLING LIKE TALKING ABOUT OLD EUROPEAN VERSUS NEW EUROPEAN. AND I BELIEVE WE'VE GOT TO HOLD THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION ACCOUNTABLE.

Yepsen: MR. LEACH, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT DONALD RUMSFELD?

Leach: WELL, IF I THOUGHT IT WOULD CHANGE OUR POLICY, ABSOLUTELY HE SHOULD GO. BUT I HAVE TO RECOGNIZE THIS IS THE PRESIDENT'S AND THE VICE PRESIDENT'S POLICY, AND THEY ARE CONSTITUTIONAL OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES. IT HAS BEEN PARTICULARLY DIFFICULT FOR ME BECAUSE I'VE KNOWN DON RUMSFELD LONGER THAN MOST PEOPLE IN PUBLIC LIFE. AND I -- TO DISAGREE WITH A FRIEND IS ALWAYS HARD BUT, YOU KNOW, TO GO THROUGH LIFE WITHOUT PEOPLE WHO DIFFER WITH YOU, THAT DOESN'T WORK VERY WELL EITHER. SO I RESPECT HIM FOR HIS HARD WORK AND COMMITMENT TO WHAT HE BELIEVES, BUT I DIFFER STRONGLY WITH WHERE HE'S BROUGHT THE COUNTRY.

Borg: I WANT TO CLARIFY SOMETHING YOU SAID EARLIER, CONGRESSMAN LEACH. I WROTE DOWN WHAT I THOUGHT WAS YOUR QUOTE. ONE OF THE FRAILEST FOREIGN POLICY IDEAS EVER PERPETUATED REGARDING CONTINUING PRESENCE IN IRAQ OR THE ENTIRE MIDDLE EAST. AND IF SO, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IRAN?

Leach: WELL, FIRST, I REFERENCE THAT WITH SPECIFIC THINKING ABOUT IRAQ. I DO THINK WE HAVE NOT DONE ENOUGH ON THE ASIA-ISRAELI CIRCUMSTANCE. I THINK WE HAVE TO BE LEADING FAR MORE IN TERMS OF LEADING FOR PEACE, AND WE HAVE LET THAT HANG IN A BACK-BURNER RELATIONSHIP. AS FAR AS IRAN -- AND I'VE SPOKEN THIS AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF OUR GOVERNMENT -- I BELIEVE IN A 3-3-100 PRINCIPLE, AND THAT IS THAT THERE ARE THREE KINDS OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION: CHEMICAL, NUCLEAR, AND BIOLOGICAL. IF WE BOMB IRAN, WHICH IS -- WE CLEARLY HAVE A CONTINGENCY PLAN TO CONSIDER THAT, WE WILL SET THEM BACK IN DEVELOPING NUCLEAR WEAPONS. BUT WE WILL ACCELERATE THEIR DEVELOPMENT OF CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL. AND THEN WE MIGHT SET THEM BACK IN DEVELOPING NUCLEAR WEAPONS. THE OTHER THREE IS YOU CAN GET NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN A TECHNIQUE OF BUYING OUR PURCHASING, AS WELL AS DEVELOPING. I THINK WE'LL ACCELERATE THE PURCHASE OR THEFT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS. AND FINALLY THE HUNDRED PRINCIPLE; WE MIGHT THINK WE CAN BOMB IRAN IN A TWO- OR THREE-WEEK PERIOD, DO ALL THIS DAMAGE, AND THEN IT'S OVER. FROM AN IRANIAN PERSPECTIVE, I THINK WE COULD TRIP A HUNDRED-YEAR RESPONSE.

Borg: PROFESSOR LOEBSACK, THE SAME QUESTION. YOU HEARD WHAT CONGRESSMAN LEACH SAID ABOUT CONTINUING PRESENCE. I ASK YOU, IS A CONTINUING PRESENCE BY THE UNITED STATES NECESSARY FOR STABILIZING THE MIDDLE EAST, AND THEN WHAT ABOUT IRAN?

Leach: WELL, CERTAINLY NOT IN IRAQ. AS, YOU KNOW, MY STEP-SON, MARCOS, HAS SERVED IN IRAQ, AND HIS WIFE IS THERE AT THE MOMENT AS WELL. HIS WIFE, MICHELLE, SHE'S BEEN THERE FOR ABOUT A MONTH. FOR ALL THE GOOD THAT MARCOS DID AND MICHELLE IS DOING AT THE MOMENT, THE INSTABILITY, THE CHAOS, THE PROBLEMS THAT ARE CREATED BY OUR PRESENCE, NOT BY THE SOLDIERS THEMSELVES, THE TROOPS THEMSELVES NECESSARILY, JUST OUR PRESENCE IN IRAQ AT THE MOMENT, THE COSTS OF THAT CONTINUED OCCUPATION FAR OUTWEIGH ANY POSSIBLE GOOD THAT THOSE TROOPS MAY BE DOING AT THE MOMENT. SO THAT'S WHY I CALL FOR THE DISENGAGEMENT IMMEDIATELY. AS FAR AS THE REST OF THE MIDDLE EAST IS CONCERNED. CERTAINLY WHAT WE HAVE TO DO IS HAVE A TWO-STATE SOLUTION SOONER RATHER THAN LATER WHEN IT COMES TO THE ISRAELI PALESTINIAN CONFLICT, BECAUSE THAT CONFLICT, RIGHTLY OR WRONGLY, IS DRIVING JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE IN MIDDLE EAST. AND IT WILL UNTIL WE SOLVE THAT PROBLEM. I THINK THAT WE NEED TO TAKE A DIFFERENT APPROACH. GEORGE BUSH HAS HAD LARGELY A HANDS-OFF APPROACH SINCE HE'S COME TO OFFICE, AND I THINK THAT'S BEEN THE WRONG THING TO DO.

Borg: TO THE ASIA-ISRAELI --

Loebsack: THAT'S RIGHT, EXACTLY. AND THEN WITH RESPECT TO IRAN, I THINK IT'S WONDERFUL THAT CONGRESSMAN LEACH HAS TALKED TO GEORGE BUSH OR WHOEVER AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS, BUT IT HAS NOT HAD AN EFFECT. I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE MAIN CONCERNS THAT HAS BEEN FOR ME AND ONE OF THE REASONS WHY I'M RUNNING FOR OFFICE -- FOR THIS OFFICE. OF COURSE, AS A NEW MEMBER OF CONGRESS --

Borg: YOU SAY THE CONGRESSMAN IS INEFFECTIVE IN DEALING WITH --

Loebsack: THAT'S RIGHT. BECAUSE I'VE NOT SEEN A CHANGE. I'VE NOT SEEN A CHANGE IN THE PRESIDENT OR THE ADMINISTRATION'S POLICY. WHAT I WILL SAY IS THAT WITH RESPECT TO IRAN, WE CERTAINLY HAVE TO TALK WITH THE IRANIANS. THAT'S SOMETHING THE ADMINISTRATION HAS NOT DONE.

Glover: CONGRESSMAN LEACH, DO YOU WANT TO RESPOND TO THAT?

Leach: IF YOU NOTICE, DAVID, WE HAVEN'T BOMBED IRAN, AND THAT WAS THE SPECIFIC CONVERSATION THAT I CITED. ALSO, I THINK WE MAKE A MISTAKE NOT TO RECOGNIZE THAT PRESIDENTS MAKE MISTAKES, THEY ALSO DO SOME THINGS RIGHT. AND THE PRESIDENT'S POLICY TOWARDS TAIWAN I THINK HAS BEEN ABOUT RIGHT. TOWARDS NORTH KOREA, I HAVE GRAVE DOUBTS. BUT I WANT TO MAKE IT CLEAR, JUST LIKE THIS COUNTRY, THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS GOING RIGHT IN AMERICA, WHETHER IT BE THE AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION HERE, WHETHER IT BE THE ATTITUDES OF THE PEOPLE WHEN YOU GO TO A HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL GAME, A COLLEGE GAME. THIS STATE IS -- EVERYTHING IS NOT ALL WRONG. AND PRESIDENTS DON'T MAKE EVERY MISTAKE UNDER THE RUG. THEY MAKE SOME AND WE HAVE TO HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE, BUT THIS COUNTRY HAS SOME STRENGTHS TOO.

Glover: MR. LOEBSACK?

Loebsack: YEAH, I JUST WANT TO SAY THAT THERE'S A MISCHARACTERIZATION AS FAR AS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT HERE IS WRONG, IF YOU WILL, IN THE SECOND DISTRICT. WHAT I'M HEARING FROM THE PEOPLE IN THE SECOND DISTRICT IS THAT CONGRESSMAN LEACH IS ENGAGING UNFORTUNATELY. NO ONE IS SAYING THAT IT IS ALL WRONG, WHAT I SEE OUT THERE IN THE SECOND DISTRICT. BUT I WISH CONGRESSMAN LEACH HAD BEEN ON THE ROAD WITH ME THE LAST FIFTEEN MONTHS AND TALKED WITH THE SINGLE MOM AT THE CASEY'S IN NEW LONDON WHO'S TRYING TO SURVIVE ON MINIMUM WAGE. I WISH HE WERE WITH ME TALKING TO THOSE DISPLACED WORKERS IN KEOKUK OR BURLINGTON. THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE IN THIS DISTRICT WHO HAVE BEEN HARMED BY THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S POLICIES AND POLICIES OF THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESS. AND IT'S NOT MORNING IN AMERICA. WE HAVE A LOT OF DIFFICULTIES IN AMERICA AND IN THE SECOND DISTRICT, AND I WANT TO GO TO CONGRESS BECAUSE I WANT TO ADDRESS THOSE PROBLEMS.

Glover: CONGRESSMAN LEACH, LET'S GO BACK TO HOW WE GET IN IRAQ. I PRESUME YOU WOULD SAY THAT GOING INTO IRAQ WAS A MISTAKE. HOW DID THAT MISTAKE GET CREATED? WHAT HAPPENED?

Leach: WELL, WE HAD AN ATTACK ON NEW YORK CITY AND THE PENTAGON. IT WAS DONE BY PEOPLE FROM THE MIDDLE EAST, BUT NONE WERE IRAQIS. THERE WAS A GROUP THAT HAD WRITTEN IN THE 1990S ABOUT THE NEED TO GO BACK INTO IRAQ, AND THEY USED THIS ATTACK AS A RATIONALIZATION TO REENTER IRAQ; WHEREAS, THE REST OF THE WORLD AND MOST AMERICANS RECOGNIZED THE CASE FOR GOING INTO AFGHANISTAN WHERE THE PLOTTING OCCURRED. BUT THE CASE FOR IRAQ WAS NOT TIED TO 9/11. THE EVIDENCE OF DEVELOPMENT OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION WAS EXCEPTIONALLY FRAIL. THERE HAVE BEEN A FEW OLDER CHEMICAL WEAPONS THAT HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED, BUT THE THOUGHT THAT SADDAM HAD GONE FURTHER PROVED TO BE FALSE. AND SO PEOPLE EXAGGERATED CIRCUMSTANCE TO ADVANCE AN AGENDA THAT FIT AN IDEOLOGICAL DIMENSION. THAT DIDN'T MEAN THAT PEOPLE WEREN'T TRYING TO ADVANCE, NOT -- I MEAN THEY WERE TRYING TO ADVANCE THE NATIONAL INTEREST, BUT THAT ADVANCING OF THE NATIONAL INTEREST WAS BASED ON FRAIL ASSUMPTIONS AND WAS TRULY COUNTERPRODUCTIVE.

Glover: MR. LOEBSACK, SAME QUESTION TO YOU. YOU'RE AN OUTSIDER BUT AS YOU LOOKED AT THIS WHOLE EVOLVING SITUATION, WHAT WENT WRONG? WHAT HAPPENED?

Loebsack: WELL, WE WERE MISLED -- THERE'S NO YOU DOUBT ABOUT IT -- BY THE ADMINISTRATION, BY THE PEOPLE IN THE ADMINISTRATION. AND ALSO THESE NEOCONS AS CONGRESSMAN LEACH MENTIONS, THEY HAVE -- AND THEY STILL CONTINUE TO HAVE A VIEW OF THE WORLD THAT I BELIEVE IS NOT BASED ON REALITY. THAT VIEW OF THE WORLD ENTAILS TRYING TO CREATE DEMOCRACIES IN PLACES WHERE, AT BEST, IT WILL TAKE TWO TO THREE DECADES IF A DEMOCRACY CAN BE PUT IN PLACE IN IRAQ. OF COURSE, THERE'S SOME DEGREE OF REPRESENTIVE GOVERNMENT THERE AT THE MOMENT. THERE WAS A FREE ELECTION -- RELATIVELY FAIR AND FREE ELECTION, BUT THEY'RE NOT GOING TO GET TO DEMOCRACY IN SIX MONTHS OR SIX YEARS OR TWELVE YEARS. AND I THINK WE SIMPLY HAVE TO FACE THAT FACT. AND I THINK TO SOME EXTENT THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION HAS DONE THAT IN RECENT DAYS, BECAUSE NOW THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT WHAT I'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT FOR SOME TIME. AND THAT IS BASICALLY CALLING FOR SOME KIND OF A STABLE GOVERNMENT THAT CAN CONTROL THE VIOLENCE FOR THE MOST PART SO THAT WE, THEN, CAN BE ALLOWED TO DISENGAGE FROM IRAQ.

Yepsen: MR. LOEBSACK, I WANT TO ASK YOU BOTH THIS QUESTION. PUT A LITTLE FINER POINT ON THIS. IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOU AND CONGRESSMAN LEACH ON IRAQ?

Loebsack: WELL, THAT'S UP TO YOU TO DECIDE.

Yepsen: NO, NO, HELP THE VOTERS.

Loebsack: ALL I CAN DO IS TELL YOU WHAT MY POSITION IS.

Yepsen: WELL, I WANT YOU TO DRAW --

Loebsack: THERE'S A MAJOR DIFFERENCE -- THERE'S A MAJOR DIFFERENCE IN IRAQ, AND THAT'S, AGAIN, HOLDING THE ADMINISTRATION ACCOUNTABLE. HE MENTIONED THAT HE DOESN'T WANT TO HAVE DONALD RUMSFELD RESIGN BECAUSE THAT WILL NOT AFFECT A POLICY CHANGE. AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED, THERE ARE TWO OTHER REASONS WHY DONALD RUMSFELD SHOULD RESIGN. ONE IS THAT HE'S BEEN ONE OF THE WORST SECRETARIES OF DEFENSE WE'VE EVER HAD ON HISTORY OF AMERICA, I WOULD ARGUE. HE'S MISMANAGED THE WAR. HE ALSO LED US ASTRAY, I BELIEVE, BEFORE THE WAR. AS WE KNOW, THERE WERE GENERALS IN THE MILITARY WHO WERE OPPOSED TO THIS, AND THEY'RE GONE FROM THE MILITARY. NOW, THAT'S FIRST REASON, ACCOUNTABILITY, AND THAT'S NOT A SMALL THING. WE HAVE TO HOLD OUR LEADERS ACCOUNTABLE. SECOND, WE NEED THE HELP OF OTHERS IN THAT REGION. WE NEED TO TRADITIONAL ALLIES. WE NEED THE COUNTRIES DONALD RUMSFELD CALLED OLD EUROPE AND ALIENATED. THAT'S ANOTHER REASON WHY DON RUMSFELD SHOULD GO.

Yepsen: AND, CONGRESSMAN LEACH, THE SAME QUESTION TO YOU. HELP THE VOTER OUT. IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE HERE? YOU BOTH SEEM TO BE AGAINST THE WAR IN IRAQ, AND STRONGLY AGAINST IT.

Leach: NOT LARGE DIFFERENCE. THERE MIGHT BE NUANCES. I WOULD POINT OUT THE ONLY CONSTITUTIONAL WAY TO REMOVE A SECRETARY WILL BE BY THE PRESIDENT MAKING THAT DECISION. HAVING SAID THAT -- UNLESS ONE WANTS TO SEEK IMPEACHMENT. HAVING SAID THAT, I WOULD ARGUE THAT AT A PARTICULAR MOMENT IN TIME, I MADE A VOTE ON AUTHORIZATION OF FORCE. AS FAR AS I KNOW, I'M THE FIRST ONE IN PUBLIC LIFE TO CALL FOR A STRATEGY OF DRAWDOWN OF TROOPS. AND SO DAVID IS CALLING FOR AN IMMEDIATE COMMENCING OF A DRAWDOWN. A SUGGESTED A COMMENCING YESTERDAY. HE SUGGESTS IT TODAY. THAT IS A NUANCE. IT'S NOT A GREAT NUANCE, BUT IT'S A SLIGHT NUANCE.

Glover: CONGRESSMAN LEACH, LET'S GO TO ANOTHER PART OF THE MIDDLE EAST WHERE THERE DOES SEEM TO BE, AS YOU SUGGESTED EARLIER IN THIS PROGRAM, SOME AGREEMENT, AND THAT'S AFGHANISTAN. THERE SEEMS TO BE SOME SUPPORT FOR GOING TO AFGHANISTAN. THE 9/11 PLOTTERS SEEM TO HAVE WORKED THERE, AND THERE WAS A LOT OF SUPPORT FOR THAT INITIALLY. THAT'S KIND OF FALLEN BY THE WAYSIDE. ARE WE LOSING IN AFGHANISTAN NOW?

Leach: WE ARE IN DEEP TROUBLE IN AFGHANISTAN. I'VE NEVER BEEN CONVINCED BY THOSE -- ALTHOUGH THEY COULD BE RIGHT -- THAT WE OUGHT TO MASSIVELY INCREASE TROOP PRESENCE IN IRAQ. BUT I BELIEVE WE'VE HAD TOO FEW TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN.

Borg: SLIPPING AND GUESSING WORSE?

Leach: THERE'S NO DOUBT THERE'S SLIPPAGE AND THERE'S NO DOUBT IT'S ALSO PARTLY TIED TO IRAQ. YOU SEE, IRAQ IS SENDING A MESSAGE TO THE WORLD OF ANARCHY WORKS. AND SO WE HAVE PUT OURSELVES IN A POSITION TO BE VULNERABLE TO ANARCHY. BEYOND THAT, WE'VE ALSO PUT OURSELVES IN A POSITION TO CAUSE A HUGE UPTICK IN THE NUMBER OF TERRORISTS THAT NOW EXIST IN THE WORLD, AND IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS. IT USED TO BE JUST AL-QAEDA AND HESBOLA AND A FEW OTHERS. NOW THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF GROUPS OUT THERE. THIS HAS NEVER BEEN A MORE DANGEROUS TIME FOR THE UNITED STATES, AND WE HAVE TO THINK THROUGH OUR STRATEGIES AS WELL AS OUR CURRENT POSTURE.

Glover: MR. LOEBSACK, SAME QUESTION TO YOU. THERE SEEMED TO BE SUPPORT FOR OUR GOING INTO AFGHANISTAN, BUT IT'S KIND OF FALLEN BY THE WAYSIDE. ARE WE LOSING AFGHANISTAN?

Loebsack: WELL, CERTAINLY THE TALIBAN IS MAKING A HUGE RESURGENCE, ESPECIALLY IN THE SOUTHERN PART OF THE COUNTRY, IN KANDAHAR AND OTHER REGIONS IN THE SOUTH. AND WE HAVE, I BELIEVE, APPROXIMATELY 20,000 OR SO TROOPS THERE AT THE MOMENT. AND NATO HAS PLAYED A SIGNIFICANT ROLE. IN FACT, THEY'RE IN CHARGE AT THE MOMENT.

Borg: WHAT TO DO.

Loebsack: RIGHT, EXACTLY. WE DO NEED TO SEND SOME MORE TROOPS THERE. THERE'S ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT ABOUT IT. THE QUESTION WILL BE JUST HOW MANY. BUT AT THE SAME TIME, I BELIEVE WE NEED TO HAVE OVERSIGHT IN CONGRESS AS FAR AS HOW WE'VE GOTTEN TO THE POINT WHERE WE ARE NOW. WE'VE NOT HAD OVERSIGHT IN THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESS. THE ONLY WAY WE CAN HAVE THAT OVERSIGHT AND ACTUALLY FIND OUT HOW WE GOT TO THIS POINT, LET ALONE OFFER SUGGESTIONS AS TO WHAT WE OUGHT TO DO IN THE FUTURE, EFFECTIVE SUGGESTIONS, I BELIEVE IS TO HAVE A CHANGE IN CONTROL OF CONGRESS AND WHO IS IN CONTROL OF THE COMMITTEES.

Yepsen: MR. LOEBSACK, PRESIDENT BUSH IS GOING TO BE PRESIDENT FOR THE NEXT TWO YEARS.

Loebsack: THAT'S RIGHT.

Yepsen: SO REALLY THE ONLY AUTHORITY THAT I CAN SEE THAT CONGRESS HAS IN THIS IS THE OVERSILENT FUNCTION THAT YOU MENTIONED, BUT ALSO THE POWER OF THE PURSE. AND YET WHENEVER WE TALK ABOUT CONGRESS EXERCISING ITS AUTHORITY TO CUT OFF FUNDS AND FORCE A WITHDRAWAL, AS WAS DONE IN VIETNAM, I BELIEVE, WE GET INTO THE WHOLE QUESTION OF, WELL, WE DON'T WANT TO DESERT OUR TROOPS.

Loebsack: WHICH I WOULD NEVER DO.

Yepsen: ALL RIGHT, HOW -- DO YOU WANT TO EXERCISE THE POWER OF THE PURSE TO START SHUTTING DOWN THIS WAR?

Loebsack: NO, I DON'T, AS A MATTER OF FACT. BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE, OF COURSE, THEN TAKING ARMS AND AMMUNITION FROM MY STEP-DAUGHTER, MY STEP-SON'S WIFE, AND POSSIBLY HIM AGAIN. BUT I WILL SAY THIS ABOUT OVERSIGHT AND ABOUT THE POWER OF THE CONGRESS. WE'RE ONLY TALKING ABOUT FOREIGN POLICY RIGHT NOW, SIGNIFICANTLY DOMESTIC POLICY. WE HAVEN'T EVEN TOUCHED ON THAT YET IN THIS DEBATE. THAT IS HUGELY IMPORTANT AND THAT'S WHAT I'M HEARING FROM THE SECOND DISTRICT -- PEOPLE IN THE SECOND DISTRICT. THE WAR IN IRAQ IS NOT THE ONLY ISSUE... HEALTH CARE, JOBS, EDUCATION. DEMOCRATS, SHOULD THEY TAKE CONTROL OF CONGRESS, CAN IN FACT OFFER REAL ALTERNATIVES TO THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION THROUGH CONGRESS, THROUGH CONTROL OF ONE OR MORE HOUSES OF CONGRESS.

Yepsen: MR. LEACH, DOES CONGRESS HAVE ANY OTHER POWER OTHER THAN OVERSIGHT AND THE POWER OF THE PURSE TO START SHUTTING DOWN THIS WAR?

Leach: THOSE ARE THE TWO PRINCIPAL AUTHORITIES. I'VE SUPPORTED THE FUNDS GOING TO THE TROOPS. AT SOME POINT CONGRESS MAY WELL HAVE TO TAKE A PURSE-STRING APPROACH. I PERSONALLY BELIEVE WE'RE GOING TO BE DRAWING DOWN OUR TROOPS BEFORE THAT CHOICE IS FACED. IN TERMS OF OVERSIGHT, I THINK DAVID HAS A POINT. THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESS HAS NOT DONE A GREAT JOB. I WILL TELL YOU I'VE ADVANCED A NOTION OF A TRUMAN LIKE COMMISSION, WHICH HAS NOW BEEN PICKED UP BY THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, I'M PLEASED TO SEE, TO OVERSEE HOW, FOR EXAMPLE, CONTRACTING IS DONE. CONTRACTING IS SOME OF THE WORST SCANDALS IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES IN TERMS OF HOW WE'VE CONDUCTED OUR PRIVATE SECTOR IN A PLACE OF WAR. BEYOND THAT, I WOULD LIKE TO STRESS, AND I THINK IT'S -- WE HAVE TO THINK THIS THROUGH. WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT PEOPLE IN DIFFICULTY IN THIS STATE OF IOWA, THE GREATEST SOCIAL DIFFICULTY HAS BEEN FOR SENIOR CITIZENS AND PRESCRIPTION DRUGS, WHERE WE HAD A CASE WHERE THOUSANDS OF IOWANS HAD TO FACE A CHOICE OF FOOD OR MEDICINE. BASED UPON THE PRESCRIPTION DRUG APPROACH THAT WAS PUT FORTH, WE NOW NO LONGER FACE THAT FOR THE POOREST AMERICANS. LOW INCOME SENIORS FOR A DOLLAR OR TWO COPAYMENT CAN GET THEIR PRESCRIPTION DRUGS. THIS IS A REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE IN MEDICARE. IT IS PROGRESSIVE. AND IT ISN'T THE CASE THAT PEOPLE ARE IGNORED. IF YOU LOOK AT THIS ECONOMY, WHAT THE CONGRESS HAS DONE IN TERMS OF TAX CUTS THAT HAVE INCENTIVIZED ETHANOL, THAT HAVE INCENTIVIZED SOY DIESEL, THAT HAS INCENTIVIZED WIND POWER IS EXTRAORDINARY. THIS STATE IS GOING TO BE DOTTED. WE'RE GOING TO CREATE THOUSANDS OF JOBS WITH BILLIONS -- AND I USE THIS WORD CAREFULLY -- BILLIONS OF INVESTMENT OVER THE NEXT DECADE BECAUSE OF THESE INCENTIVES THAT HAVE BEEN PUT INTO THE SYSTEM. IOWA AS A STATE IS AN ENORMOUS BENEFICIARY OF CERTAIN ASPECTS OF RECENT FEDERAL POLICY.

Glover: MR. LOEBSACK, LET'S LOOK AT SOME OF THE LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES OF WHAT'S HAPPENED IN IRAQ. WE HAD THE VIETNAM WAR THIRTY YEARS AGO. NOW WE HAVE IRAQ. WHY PUBLIC DISAPPROVAL OF BOTH? WHAT HAPPENS THE NEXT TIME A FOREIGN POLICY CRISIS COMES UP AND A PRESIDENT HAS TO SAY TO THE COUNTRY, WE HAVE TO DO THIS?

Loebsack: WHAT I FEAR -- NO MATTER WHICH PARTY THAT PRESIDENT MAY BE A MEMBER OF, WHAT I FEAR MOST IS THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL DOUBT THE INTELLIGENCE ON WHICH THAT DECISION WOULD BE MADE. I'M VERY, VERY FEARFUL OF THAT BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY IN THE CASE OF IRAQ, WE HAD BAD INTELLIGENCE, POSSIBLY DOCTORED INTELLIGENCE, MANIPULATED INTELLIGENCE. THERE WAS NEVER AN IMMINENT THREAT. TO ME, AS FAR AS ANY KIND OF MILITARY ACTION WAS CONCERNED IN ANOTHER PART OF THE WORLD, OUR NATIONAL VITAL INTERESTS HAVE TO BE AT STAKE. AND THAT IS A JUDGMENT CALL PRIMARILY ON THE PART OF THE PRESIDENT, BUT CONGRESS NEEDS TO BE CONSULTED. CONGRESS NEEDS TO BE A PART OF THAT. AND I WOULD BE THE FIRST TO ADMIT THAT THERE WERE SEVERAL MEMBERS OF MY PARTY PRIOR TO OUR COMMENCEMENT OF THE WAR IN IRAQ, WHO DID NOT TAKE THEIR JOB AS SERIOUSLY AS THEY COULD HAVE.

Glover: MR. LEACH, SAME QUESTION TO YOU, HAS THIS EXPERIENCE IN IRAQ, BUILT ON TOP OF THE EXPERIENCE IN VIETNAM, CRIPPLED THIS COUNTRY'S ABILITY TO INVOLVE ITSELF AS A WORLD PLAYER? I MEAN WOULD A FUTURE PRESIDENT HAVE TROUBLE COMING TO THE COUNTRY AND SAYING WE HAVE TO DO THIS, IT'S GOING TO BE PAINFUL?

Leach: WE HAVE TWO ISSUES THERE: ONE, HOW WE DEAL WITH OUR OWN DECISION MAKING; SECONDLY, HOW THE WORLD PERCEIVES IT. WE HAVE LOST A GREAT DEAL OF CONFIDENCE IN THE WORLD, IN THE AMERICAN STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT AND DECISION MAKING. DAVID IS RIGHT; INTELLIGENCE WAS POLITICIZED. BEYOND THAT, AND IN A BIPARTISAN WAY, THE MAJORITY OF DEMOCRATS, THE MAJORITY OF DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES FROM THE SENATE, VOTED FOR THIS WAR. SO IT ISN'T AS IF IT'S A ONE-PARTY CIRCUMSTANCE. BUT I THINK WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO THINK THROUGH IN A VERY PROFOUND WAY WHAT THINGS WE DO WELL IN THE WORLD AND WHAT THINGS WE DO LESS WELL. AND THEN WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO VERY CAREFULLY BEGIN TO BUILD UP AN ALLIANCE STRUCTURE AND A CONFIDENCE BUILDING EFFORT INVOLVING WHETHER IT BE DIPLOMACY OR WHETHER IT BE INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS. AND WE HAVE TO RECOGNIZE DIPLOMACY ISN'T JUST GOVERNMENT. THE GREAT STRENGTH OF THIS COUNTRY IS PRIVATE CITIZEN INTERACTIONS WITH FOREIGNERS. AND WE HAVE TO BUILD UP THE IDEA OF MUTUAL SELF-INTEREST. AND WHETHER IT BE THE BUSINESSMAN DEALING WITH THE BUSINESSMAN IN EUROPE OR ASIA, WHETHER IT BE AN AMERICAN CITIZEN THAT MIGHT BE IN THE CULTURAL ARENA, THAT'S THE STRENGTH OF THIS COUNTRY.

Borg: WHAT DO YOU WANT THE VOTER TO REMEMBER AS HE OR SHE ENTERS THE CURTAIN THIS ELECTION TIME?

Loebsack: AS I'VE ALREADY MENTIONED, THIS REASON I'M DOING THIS IS THAT I WANT TO RESTORE THE HOPE AND OPPORTUNITY THAT I BELIEVE AND PEOPLE IN THE SECOND DISTRICT ARE TELLING ME --

Borg: OKAY, I --

Loebsack: -- THAT HAVE BEEN TAKEN AWAY FROM SO MANY IOWANS. AND I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT THAT PEOPLE KNOW THAT I GREW UP IN POVERTY MYSELF, AND I WOULD NOT BE HERE TODAY --

Borg: CONGRESSMAN?

Loebsack: -- HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR THOSE OPPORTUNITIES PROVIDED TO ME.

Borg: CONGRESSMAN LEACH, WHAT DO YOU WANT VOTERS TO REMEMBER?

Leach: WELL, AS AN INCUMBENT, I HAVE A RECORD THAT HAS TO BE APPRAISED AND HELD ACCOUNTABLE. AND ACCORDING TO ONE MAJOR NATIONAL MAGAZINE, I HAVE THE MOST INDEPENDENT VOTING RECORD IN CONGRESS. THE SECOND THING I WOULD SAY, IS TRUE CHANGE POLARIZING CONGRESS, MOVING AGAIN TO THE EDGES, OR TRYING TO BUILD UP THE MIDDLE. AND I WILL TELL YOU IN THIS ELECTION, PEOPLE ARE UPSET WITH REPUBLICANS, BUT THEY'RE NOT TERRIBLY ATTRACTED BY THE DEMOCRATS. THEY WANT INDEPENDENT JUDGMENT.

Borg: THANK YOU. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.

Leach: THANK YOU, DEAN.

Loebsack: THANK YOU.

Borg: BUT WE'RE OUT OF OUR TIME. ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS,' ON THE EVE OF THE NOVEMBER 7 GENERAL ELECTION, DAVID YEPSEN FOCUSES ON IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY'S BALANCE OF POWER. WE'LL HAVE FOUR LEGISLATORS HERE AT THE 'IOWA PRESS' TABLE. THE COLEADERS OF THE SENATE: COUNCIL BLUFFS DEMOCRAT MIKE GRONSTAL AND MARION REPUBLICAN MARION LUNDBY; ALSO THE CURRENT IOWA HOUSE SPEAKER WILL BE HERE, SIOUX CITY REPUBLICAN CHRISTOPHER RANTS, AND THE DEMOCRATIC MINORITY LEADER PAT MURPHY OF DUBUQUE. WE'LL DISCUSS THE ISSUES RESONATING WITH VOTERS IN THE ELECTION AND HOW THAT MIGHT TRANSLATE INTO THE BALANCE OF POWER IN THE NEXT IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY. AND NEXT WEEK THE PACE OF PREELECTION COVERAGE PICKS UP HERE. ON MONDAY 'THE CANDIDATES WITH DAVID YEPSEN.' DAVE WITH GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES DEMOCRAT CHET CULVER AND REPUBLICAN JIM NUSSLE. A TWO-PART SERIES AIRS MONDAY NIGHT 8:00 AND 8:30; REBROADCAST TUESDAY NIGHTS AT THE SAME TIME, 8:00 AND 8:30. ALSO ON MONDAY PUBLIC TELEVISION BEGINS A FIVE-PART SERIES, 'CAMPAIGN 2006 WITH MIKE GLOVER.' YOU'LL SEE MIKE INTERVIEWING CANDIDATES FOR STATEWIDE OFFICES AND FOR CONGRESS, MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY NIGHTS, 6:30. I HOPE YOU'LL WATCH OUR SPECIAL CAMPAIGN COVERAGE. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; AND BY CAPITOL RESOURCES, INC., LOCATED IN BROOKLYN, IOWA; AND BY NICOLE SCHLINGER AND ERIC LANGE INDIVIDUALLY, FUND-RAISING AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES FOR MAJOR CAMPAIGNS SINCE 1996.

 


Tags: campaign 2006 Congress Democrats Iowa Republicans