Sharron Angle, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate running in Nevada, accused her Democratic opponent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, of putting U.S. troops’ lives in greater danger in Iraq, and demanded that he apologize to those who wear the U.S. uniform.
Three quarters of the way through the two candidates’ Thursday night debate in a Las Vegas PBS studio, Angle confronted Reid, saying, “When you said, ‘This war is lost,’ and Gen. Petraeus was dishonest, that emboldened our enemies, demoralized our troops and endangered them, and you need to apologize to them, Senator.”
Angle was responding to Reid’s answer after debate moderator Mitch Fox
recited an April, 2007 quote in which Reid said, “The war is lost and the Surge is not accomplishing anything, as indicated by the extreme violence.”
Fox asked Reid if he thought declaring the war lost had demoralized the troops, but Reid gave the impression he was for President Bush’s military escalation in Iraq all along.
The incumbent Democratic senator said the Surge “was the right thing to do,” adding that “the Surge worked because we brought in the economy, working with the Sunnis, we brought in diplomacy, and that’s how we got the Sunni Awakening, so they started fighting the people who were causing all the trouble.”
The Democratic leader in the Senate also said, “Gen. Petraeus has done
a good job. He’s my friend.”
But Reid told CNN a different story in April, 2007, charging that the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq was not believable in his assurances
that the Surge was working.
“I don’t believe him,” Reid said three and a half years ago, “because
it’s not happening.”
During Thursday night’s debate, Reid made it seem that back then he and Petraeus were on the same page as to the Surge. “The statement that I made was made following Gen. Petraeus saying the war cannot be won militarily,” Reid claimed. “He said, and I said, the war could only be won militarily, economically, and diplomatically. That’s why after I made my statement, and Gen. Petraeus made his statements, we did the Surge then, not later.”
The positive results of the Surge were dramatic. By the end of 2007, the monthly death toll for US troops in Iraq had plummeted to its second lowest point since the 2003 U.S. invasion, with similar reductions for civilian deaths. By mid-2008, US forces were experiencing their lowest casualty rate of the entire war.
With so much at stake in a contest pitting a Tea Party-endorsed former teacher against one of the most powerful politicians in Washington, the Angle-Reid race has turned nasty. Scrolling up the screen in an Angle TV ad are the bill numbers of the 300 times Reid voted to increase taxes , while a Reid commercial accuses former state lawmaker Angle of voting to protect sex offenders.
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