It Depends On What Your Definition of 'Now' Is

Over the past week or so, Democratic Congressional District One candidate Chellie Pingree gained two important endorsements, and lost one.

            On April 23, she appeared with General John Johns to endorse the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq. The day before, she’d “co-authored” an op-ed with General Paul Eaton, printed in the Portland Press Herald, also endorsing that plan.

            But in a PPH letter to the editor over the weekend, Eaton retracted his support of Pingree, and shuffled over to Pingree-opponent Adam Cote’s camp, citing Cote’s “rejection of the idea that can or should consider cutting off funding or could safely bring our troops home ‘immediately.’”

In his letter, Eaton charges Pingree (who has touted her “troops home now” position on the campaign trail) with flip-flopping: “On Iraq, you can't be responsible one minute and irresponsible the next. You have to be clear.”

Cote, on the other hand, has maintained a consistent stance, his campaign says.

(And here is that stance, from Cote’s Web site: Cutting off funding for the war is not an answer either: it will not get our troops home sooner, and it will not address the larger question of what happens after we leave.  If we take a responsible path, we will have the opportunity to invest more in our schools and hospitals here at home. But if we irresponsibly cut off funding for the war and leave recklessly, it could cost us many times more to repair the damage that we do to the region. Unless we are also committed to finding a diplomatic solution, simply “bringing our troops home now” would be just as irresponsible as “staying the course.”

Eager to enter the race to (and for) the left, Ethan Strimling sent out a press release this afternoon aimed more at Pingree than at Cote. This makes sense – Pingree and Strimling are competing more for progressive voters, while Cote is more appealing to middle-of-the road Dems.

Here’s an excerpt from Strimling’s release:

"He said Democrats need to know very clearly where each candidate stands on the issue before the June 10th Primary but candidate Chellie Pingree is sending mixed messages. ‘I’ve been consistent from the beginning – we need to end this disastrous war, begin an immediate pull out of troops and increase our diplomatic efforts to resolve the problems in Iraq,’ he said. ‘Congress should not vote for any more funding of the war unless a clear deadline for withdrawal is established.’ "

One remaining question amidst all the hubbub – What does General Johns, who stood with Pingree at the podium on April 23, say about all this?


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