Sen. Dodd touts his experience in Portsmouth visit
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Sen. Chris Dodd, left, speaks with Union President Paul O'Connor, right, and John Joyal at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on Thursday, February 15, 2007. (Photo by Don Clark)

PORTSMOUTH -- In what seemed like a shot at fellow Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd said on Thursday the nation cannot endure six to eight years of on-the-job training.

"I think people do care about experience," said Dodd during a gathering outside the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

He reiterated that statement later in the day at a meet-and-greet at Redhook Ale Brewery at Pease International Tradeport.

"We need someone with experience," he said.

Dodd, a 30-year Capitol Hill veteran, visited the Seacoast area for the second time on Thursday since announcing his run for president and said he wouldn't be a stranger.

"New Hampshire will give me a chance," he said. "I'll be back here soon and often."

Before touring the shipyard, the Connecticut senator touted his knowledge of the submarine industry and the importance it plays in national security.

"Those that think this technology has no use are wrong," he said. "We want to see this work expand."

Dodd also cautioned against the growing Chinese submarine fleet. He said by 2014, that nation would have twice as many submarines as the United States.

"The way we're headed, pretty soon we're only going to have 42 subs," said Dodd. "That's not acceptable."

When asked what set his campaign apart from the other Democratic hopefuls, Dodd again stressed his Naval knowledge.

"For one thing, I know about subs," he said. "They don't have a briefing book on that stuff."

At the Redhook event, Dodd went into more detail about what prompted him to get into the race and what his priorities would be if elected president.

It was a question his 5-year-old daughter asked him one day that got him thinking about a run for the presidency, he said.

"She asked, źDaddy, what's my life going to be like?'" the senator said. "That's what motivated me to come out to talk to you and try this."

Dodd listed his priorities as education -- an area in which he has been active as a senator -- energy and the environment, health care and re-establishing American leadership worldwide.

He said he would improve the quality of education so American children would learn how to compete with workers, not just from his home state of Connecticut, but from Singapore and China.

Calling U.S. reliance on oil from the Middle East a "perilous" situation, Dodd pledged that one of the first things he would do as president is end the country's reliance on that oil within the decade.

He also said the next president must "reverse the abandonment of the law" that he believes has happened under the Bush administration.

"Anyone who wants to become president better be able to protect the Constitution," Dodd said.

The senator said he is pro-choice and is reluctant to support anything that limits a woman's right to choose, and he supports a universal health care system. He admitted to making a mistake in voting for the resolution that allowed the administration to send troops to Iraq.

"I subscribed to the notion that there was a problem," he said. "We all probably should have done more work (to determine the validity of the president's claims) because it was a mistake."

However, he said he hoped that vote would not become a major issue in the campaign for the White House, and he claimed he has been in the forefront of attempts to hold the number of troops in Iraq to current levels.

"I am disappointed that after an election last year that gave the Democrats power, all we could come up with was a non-binding resolution" against the so-called "surge" of troops into that country that the administration is seeking, he said.

He assured the crowd of about 40 people at Redhook that while there is a lot of anger in the world currently aimed at the U.S., it was "not irreversible" and that many still want America to lead the world in the right direction.




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