PORTSMOUTH — When Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards talks to a local audience today about Iraq, he will likely face voters who are as conflicted as they are concerned about the future.
Most of all, they want action, and they are not alone. According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll about President Bush's new $190 billion funding request for Iraq and Afghanistan, only 27 percent said it should be funded in full, 23 percent said it should be somewhat reduced, and 43 percent said it should be sharply reduced.
The Herald will hold a candidate forum on Iraq with Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards at 3 p.m. today at Seacoast Media Group, 111 New Hampshire Ave., Portsmouth.
Iraq is the No. 1 issue for voters in both parties. A small sampling of Democratic voters who will attend the Seacoast Media Group forum shows that attitudes range from frustrated to hopeful — and that these voters are interested in finding out how the country can change course after more than 54 months of war in Iraq and increasing American diplomatic isolation.
"What's gonna happen (internationally) after our troops come home?" asked Susan Gorman of Exeter. "We have created an environment for terrorism to spread. What is (Edwards') plan to help us regain a leadership position?"
Gorman, who has yet to choose a candidate, believes the war in Iraq "is a travesty that should have never been fought." She said that the politicians have yet to be accountable on the war, but what she would like to see the American people become is more accountable to themselves.
"Americans need to stop being lazy politically and start speaking up," she said.
Bob Pollard of Portsmouth is a lifelong Republican who is now a registered independent who plans to vote in the Democratic primary. Pollard, who originally supported the war in Iraq, will attend the forum with his wife, Nancy, and what he would like to hear from Edwards are proposals to withdraw from Iraq in a year.
"We need to get out as soon as possible," he said. "But how we get out is a serious issue."
Pollard, a retired insurance and real estate broker, said he abandoned his old party affiliation because he doesn't recognize the modern Republican Party. He said the country has been badly served by the Bush administration and needs a "totally different approach to our foreign affairs. ... I want someone who is able to talk intelligently to our friends and countries like Iran."
While Pollard has yet to decide on a candidate — he's leaning towards Sen. Barack Obama, but giving Edwards strong consideration — there's nothing undecided about Joan Pike of Newmarket.
Pike embodies the passionate and sometimes partisan prism through which the war is viewed. She is an Edwards supporter who agrees with his call on Congress to stop funding the war until President Bush changes his war policies.
"We need to do something because it's the most atrocious thing that soldiers are being killed so (Bush) can build up his legacy," Pike said. Though she disagreed with his war authorization vote in 2002, she said Edwards has stood up since then and developed a comprehensive, detailed approach to revive the country's foreign policy authority.
"What we need is a clever lawyer to lead this country," Pike said about his experience as a successful trial litigator.
Portsmouth Herald Forum
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