Edwards v. Edwards

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Apparently, John Edwards was for combat missions in Iraq before he was against them. In his September 7 speech on terrorism, here’s what he had to say:

Even though the presence of U.S. troops has served as an attractive target for terrorists, our eventual withdrawal will not remove the threat. As president, I will redeploy troops into Quick Reaction Forces outside of Iraq, to perform targeted missions against Al Qaeda cells and to prevent a genocide or regional spillover of a civil war.

But at last night’s debate, he blasted Hillary Clinton:

I heard Senator Clinton say on Sunday that she wants to continue combat missions in Iraq. To me, that’s a continuation of the war. I do not think we should continue combat missions in Iraq, and when I’m on a stage with the Republican nominee come the fall of 2008, I’m going to make it clear that I’m for ending the war.

See it here:

UPDATE: Edwards spokesman Eric Schultz takes strong issue with this comparison:

“Senator Clinton keeps combat troops in Iraq. That means she continues the war. John Edwards will end the war. Being just a little bit better than the Republicans is not a good enough reason to be President of the United States.”

The Edwards campaign contends that under Clinton’s plan, the troops continue to be sitting ducks for Iraq insurgents; the bases become symbols of American occupation; the troops would inevitably be drawn into extra and different missions, and the Iraqis remain dependent on the U.S. presence. Under Edwards’ proposal, in which the troops would be outside the country–probably in Kuwait–the mission would be far more narrowly defined: taking out an Al Qaeda safe haven, stopping genocide, and preventing the regional spillover of a civil war.

UPDATE2: Lots in incoming on this one from our commenters. Clarification: I’m not saying that Edwards and Clinton have the same plan for Iraq, but rather, that in drawing the contrast–which, of course, is what debates are all about–he overstated his own position by using the word “missions,” and implying that there wouldn’t be any in an Edwards Administration.