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Jack Reed on tap for Wednesday

RI's senior senator, who may or may not wind up in an Obama administration, is slated to get his DNC spotlight tomorrow night, shortly before 9 pm, talking up the theme of "securing America's future."

Meanwhile, a Washingtonian magazine profile (by the ProJo's John Mulligan) calls him a key to what the Democrats will do to end the war.

A self-deprecating son of blue-collar parents, Reed said that he was only “the concierge” on the tour of war zones that most observers say bolstered Obama’s foreign-policy and national-security credentials.

But insiders know that Reed, who had made 11 previous trips to Iraq, contributed not only to the hurried preparations for the trip but also to the long-term formulation of a Democratic policy suited to Obama’s argument that Afghanistan—not Iraq—should be the focus of US counterterrorism efforts.

The trip clarified Reed’s status as a leading Democrat who can speak to both sides of this country’s deepest political division since the Vietnam War. He has one foot in the camp that voted against the use of force in Iraq and criticizes the Bush administration’s conduct of the war. But he also has a foot in the camp that thinks a decent ending might yet be salvaged, especially in the wake of the Bush-Petraeus surge and signs of increased military and political skill on the part of the al-Maliki–led government.

“We are in it,” Reed said of the Iraq war this past spring. “We have to maximize our ability to come away with some kind of acceptable outcome.”

The Iraq-Afghanistan trip further fueled talk of Reed as a possible ticketmate or Cabinet pick for Obama—speculation that the Rhode Islander dismisses. Reed likely would be an influential Senate voice in an Obama administration, and he would get a respectful hearing from a President John McCain, too. The Republican senator from Arizona, a conspicuous advocate of the surge in Iraq, said of his longtime colleague on the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2005: “Jack travels to Iraq, he has friends in Iraq, and because of his many connections, Jack sees things in Iraq that a lot of us don’t get to see.”

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