Former Sen. John Edwards said the Bush administration is trying to start a war with Iran.
"George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the neocon warmongers used 9/11 to start a war with Iraq, and now they're trying to use Iraq to start a war with Iran. And we have to stop them," the Democratic-nomination hopeful said on Monday morning in a packed University of Iowa Richey Ballroom.
He also pitched a plan for improving United States relations with Iran, which included opening dialogue and abandoning the Bush administration's policy of "preventive war."
Criticizing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for not being specific about her plan to end the war in Iraq, Edwards said she sends mixed messages about her position on the war. Clinton is "voting like a hawk in Washington, while talking like a dove in Iowa and New Hampshire," he said.
Aside from bashing the Democratic frontrunner, Edwards praised presidential-nomination hopefuls Joe Biden and Chris Dodd for their votes against a bill that called Iran's Revolutionary Guard a "terrorist organization," a resolution Clinton supported in a Senate vote last month.
Edwards went on to criticize Clinton for being nebulous in her exit strategy for the war in Iraq.
"All she's said is that she'll meet will with her generals within two months of taking office," he said, pledging a complete pullout of Iraq before the end of 2009. "That's not a plan. That's not even a real promise. It's the promise of a planning meeting."
Edwards closely follows Sen. Barack Obama in Iowa, according to most polls. Both follow Clinton by fewer than 10 percent among Democratic voters surveyed in Iowa, in a race UI political-science associate professor David Redlawsk characterized as "very tight."
Nationally, Clinton holds a convincing lead over Obama and Edwards, garnering 49 percent of poll respondents, according to a Washington Post/ABC News Poll conducted between Oct. 29 and Nov. 1. Respectively, Obama and Edwards carried 26 and 12 percent of randomly selected subjects nationwide.
Redlawsk said Edwards' and other candidates' repeated criticism of Clinton is expected as contenders try to distinguish themselves from the frontrunner.
Edwards delivered his address, which contained several remarks directed at young voters, to a crowd dominated by older people. The event was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., though Edwards did not arrive onstage until 40 minutes later.
Don Hodson, a Coralville, Iowa, resident, said he was impressed by the "very positive" and "very progressive" speech, adding that he appreciated Edwards' message of "anti-belligerance."
Hodson said foreign policy will be a very significant factor in deciding who he will caucus for on Jan. 3, though he is leaning toward Edwards and Rodham Clinton.
One other factor could influence Hodson's decision: "Bill gave us eight years of peace and prosperity," he said.
© 2007 The Daily Iowan via U-WIRE