Edwards: Congress Should Demand Withdrawal

Sen. John Edwards On Face The Nation
Bob Schieffer talks with Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., on Face the Nation.

Congress should continue to push for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq regardless of what top military advisers say in their progress report next month, Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards said Sunday on Face The Nation.

"I think they should not submit a single funding bill to the president for the war that doesn't have a timetable for withdrawal," Edwards told Bob Schieffer. "And I think they should use whatever legislative tool is available to them, including filibuster."

The former North Carolina senator started the last day of his four-day bus tour of New Hampshire outside Manchester's City Hall, where he told several hundred people that they should ask themselves two key questions when the report is released. First, has Iraq made progress toward a political solution? And second, how long will troops be deployed if there is no progress?

Edwards has said if he were president, he would remove about 50,000 American troops immediately, with the rest redeployed over about nine months. A troop withdrawal would show the Iraqi government that it needs to find a political compromise to end the conflict, he said.

"There has to be some compromise between Maliki and the Shia-led government and the Sunni leadership," Edwards said. "Otherwise there'll never be stability and security in Iraq. And Maliki, who has been, clearly, a weak leader, needs to be focused on that job."

Meanwhile, Sunday, Iraq's beleaguered prime minister lashed out at Democrats who have called for his ouster.

"There are American officials who consider Iraq as if it were one of their villages, for example Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin. They should come to their senses," al-Maliki said.

Al-Maliki struck back in the final days before the American commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus is due in Washington for his September progress report.

The Shiite prime minister said a negative report by Petraeus would not cause him to change course, although he said he expected Petraeus would "be supportive of the government and will disappoint the politicians who are relying on it" to be negative.

Edwards said the prime minister is focusing on the wrong issue.

"I think that Maliki should quit worrying about Democrats and the presidential campaign in America and start worrying about what he needs to do in his own country," Edwards said.

"I mean, everyone knows that at the end of the day, as the Iraq Study Group has said and most of us have said at this point, there can be no military solution in Iraq. There has to be a political solution," he said.

Edwards stopped short of saying al-Maliki should resign.

"I think that's something for them to decide, not for us to decide," Edwards told Schieffer.

The former Senator from North Carolina said that there was no way of predicting what would happen if the U.S. withdrew its troops from Iraq.

"The truth is there are no good choices and no one can predict with any kind of accuracy exactly what's going to happen in Iraq," Edwards said. "We're going to maximize the chances of success, we're going to do this in an orderly and responsible way, but there's no way to know with certainty what will happen."