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Hillary fine-tunes message on war in Iraq..??

Shoey

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BY GLENN THRUSH
WASHINGTON BUREAU

December 1, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, like President George W. Bush, is repackaging her Iraq War pitch to soothe worried supporters.

In an unusual 1,600-word "Dear Friend" letter sent to constituents and campaign contributors on the eve of the president's Iraq speech, the New York Democrat reiterated her support for the war while backing off her previous reluctance to setting withdrawal timetables for U.S. troops.

The missive was composed after Clinton received thousands of letters and e-mails on the war, many asking her to justify her October 2002 vote authorizing the invasion of Iraq, according to Clinton's campaign and Senate staffers.

"I do not believe that we should allow this to be an open-ended commitment without limits or end," wrote Clinton. "Nor do I believe that we can or should pull out of Iraq immediately."

Clinton's campaign communications guru Ann Lewis e-mailed copies of the letter to supporters and donors as the former first lady prepared for a frantic two-week, six-state tour with stops in Manhattan, Kentucky and Michigan, raising funds for herself and other candidates.

Clinton - who had long resisted using public benchmarks for troop reductions - now says she'll back a gradual withdrawal starting next year if this month's Iraqi national elections aren't scuttled by chaos, fraud or bloodshed.

"We are at a critical point with the December 15th elections that should, if successful, allow us to start bringing home our troops in the coming year," she wrote, adding her continued opposition to a "rigid timetable."

The former first lady has tried to chart a middle course on the war, defending her vote while attacking Bush for "false assurances, faulty evidence and mismanagement of the war."

That hasn't spared her the ire of anti-war Democrats, including Cindy Sheehan and Steven Greenfield, a New Paltz peace activist who is collecting petition signatures to challenge Clinton in the 2006 Senate primary.

In recent weeks, Clinton has rejected calls by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) for a quick withdrawal from Iraq.

She even refused to endorse a more moderate approach, favored by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), that would have required the White House to set internal withdrawal benchmarks.

But Clinton tacked to the left on Nov. 15, joining Senate Democrats in voting for Levin's amendment requiring the White House and Pentagon to create a "campaign plan with estimated dates for the phased redeployment" of U.S. forces contingent on political and security stability. That amendment failed in a party-line vote.

The pressure on Clinton has intensified as the war debate has heated up. Anti-war protesters have become a fixture outside Clinton fundraisers, while inside, the senator has had to fend off questions about the war, according to recent attendees.
Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.
http://www.newsday.com/news/nationw...1,0,7995627,print.story?coll=ny-top-headlines
Tomorrows headlines:
Hilliary Clinton and John Kerry call for immediate withdraw.:roll:
 
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