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Gary Hart: John Kerry’s October Speech on Iraq, Was a Turning Point

by Pamela Leavey

In an email this morning from JohnKerry.com, sent after Bush’s speech on Iraq, Gary Hart spoke out about John Kerry’s plan for Iraq and asked supporters to continue to speak out. Here’s the text:

“The public trust must be earned, and speaking clearly, candidly and forcefully now about the mess in Iraq is the place to begin.”

I wrote those words in August in The Washington Post to call on Democratic Party leaders to step forward on Iraq. My years in the Senate and as co-chair of the Bipartisan Commission on National Security had convinced me that, unless Democrats provided real leadership, Americans would never receive the honest and open debate about Iraq that our country deserves.

When I first read John Kerry’s October speech on Iraq, I knew it was a turning point. He spoke with the same unwavering voice – truth speaking to power – as he did when I first heard him speak out about the war in Vietnam in 1971. John Kerry got it right last month when he said, “Asking tough questions isn’t pessimism; it’s patriotism” and then answered those questions by offering a detailed plan to get the troops home.

In recent weeks, Democratic leaders across America – Jack Murtha, Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, Pat Leahy, John Edwards and Barack Obama – have questioned the Bush Administration’s unfocused “stay as long as it takes” approach. Democrats have joined together to offer substantive alternatives to get it right in Iraq and made it clear that our conscience and conviction lie with taking care of our troops.

The grassroots community at johnkerry.com has played a critical role making sure these ideas are heard and that brave Democrats are protected against the inevitable Republican attacks.

When John Kerry called for the withdrawal of 20,000 troops over the holidays, and the majority of remaining combat troops by the end of 2006, linking bringing troops home to clear benchmarks, you added energy and passion to that initiative.

When John Kerry called for accelerated training of Iraqi troops, greater international involvement, and improved reconstruction efforts, you amplified his voice.

Now, because of your efforts and those of all these Democratic leaders, make no mistake: the wheel has turned in the national debate over the war in Iraq. The American people have responded to the tough questions we’ve been asking because they had the same ones. The result is that the Bush Administration is being forced to engage in something they’ve gone to great lengths to avoid: an open debate about the war in Iraq.

We should all be proud of what has been accomplished, but never complacent. Asking questions and debating the issues alone will not rectify this disastrous situation exacerbated by the endless stream of Administration failures. You have to demand answers. You have to demand results for our troops.

That means making sure the intensity of your grassroots effort doesn’t fade over the holidays. Our troops don’t have the luxury of taking it easy over the holidays, and neither do we.

We have to continue to speak out – on talk radio, in letters to the editor, and to our neighbors – to demand an Administration strategy to get our troops home.

This fight isn’t just about the future of the Democratic Party – whether we’re going to have a strong Democratic Party that speaks its mind or settles for being a second Republican Party. This fight, at its core, is about restoring the strength and honor of America.

America needs your continued leadership, courage and passion on the grassroots level. I can’t thank you enough for everything you have already done, and I am confident about what the johnkerry.com community is sure to accomplish in the future.


Gary Hart

15 Responses to “Gary Hart: John Kerry’s October Speech on Iraq, Was a Turning Point”

  1. When Hart is good, he’s REALLY good.

    Definitely no let up over the holidays. Think I’ll go check on sending another CARE package to Iraq for Christmas.

  2. Really, REALLY good. Bravo!

  3. KJ is back!

    I love this email. So glad to see Gary Hart in support.

  4. Well said Gary.

  5. Makes up for his ‘no permanent bases’ claim that no one had called for it, when JK had.

    Maybe now we’ll get some cohesion on something substantive. You think?

    Thank you, Gary. Just think of him as JK’s Homeland Security czar. Now that would have been an appointment.

  6. Well I’m glad somebody is giving Kerry’s October speech some credit. I saw some of the cspan coverage tonight on Murtha, pelosi, reed and kerry. During Pelosi’s conference reporters kept asking if John Murtha speaking out was the turning point and she was only to happy to say yes. I don’t know if anyone else picked up on it and I know this is a dem friendly blog but a reporter mentioned something that Kerry said in his press conference and she made the comment something to the effect that John Murtha presented a clear and concise view and hadn’t wavered. It was almost like she was saying kerry had been for Iraq then changed his mind and murtha was the consistent one. She didn’t mentione kerry’s name and kept giving murtha glowing remarks about his service. I was like jeez lady he isn’t the only dem who had military service and I don’t care if you spent 5 years or 5 hours fighting in a war your still fought in it. Pelosi went on to make a snarky remark about how the house is always ahead of the senate. She darn near trashed senators and I hate to say it but if Kerry runs again he better not count or trust Pelosi’s support. She and Reid need to back all their members except the republican lights and not pit one’s record of service to his country against another one. This is why the dems won’t win in 06 or 08 if they keep stabbing each other in the back.
    Pelosi did dem senators a disservice with her press conference today rather she meant to or not.

  7. Gary Hart is a JK guy! That’s fantastic! Now who else can Kerry pull on board? It was a good read on Kerry’s behalf by Hart.

  8. Pen

    What I picked up on from Pelosi did not thrill me. I’m more than a little tried of the let’s pit ourselves against each other instead of work together routine.

  9. Blue W

    Gary Hart was an early JK endorser in the primaries. I actually got to meet him in NH.

  10. I thought I was the only one who has noticed that until I read your column. I truly believe John Kerry started the Iraq debate with his speech in October. But the democrats and the media have been running around “phrased withdraw”, and even going a distance try just not to embrace it. The expression on Al Franklin’s face summoned it all when he silently agreed with “phrased withdraw” on Jay Leno Show. It is tricky to agree to a strategy without credit its creator. And why is that – need I ask?

  11. Gary Hart has a lot of expertise in foreign relations and I think he and Kerry see eye to eye.

  12. I think it’s a turf and jealousy thing with Pelosi and touting her own House, which isn’t helpful right now. I hope Murtha and Kerry do more joint, public discussion, airing the few differences, which Kerry likens to a result from Murtha’s exasperation and distrust in the administration.

    Unattractive aconsidering how John nad Teresa have been vocal in their defense of Murtha.

  13. Marjorie G

    I’m very disappointed in the House Leader from CA. What the heck was she thinking. Considering she wouldn’t jump on Murtha’s plan when unveiled, yesterday was bizarre. Talk about kissing up.

  14. I would like to a Kerry/Murtha news conference – coming out with a more exact strategy for Iraq that all DEMs can get behind, even Biden, even HRC. This ‘stay the course’ ‘until the mission is complete’ stuff is nuts.
    Not only does shrub have to think about building an Iraqi army, but the police service is incompetent as well.
    Patch it up as best as can be done AND GET OUT OD THERE.
    Am I wrong, or was the mission complete when no WMD, specifically nuclear WMD, was never found. Now Shrub is trying to cover his ass and it makes me sick.
    Anybody remember Osama Bin Ladin? I do.

  15. I’m glad I wasn’t crazy went I notice pelosi’s press conference. That was bizarre because she wasn’t for it at first then she said she had time to study it. As minority leader shouldn’t she already have an idea of what it takes to get out this mess?

    Kerry has truly tried to help candiates around the country this year and i think its a shame that we still hear snark from pelosi.

    I do believe they need to come up with some kind of coordinated strategy. If nothing else all dems have to say when they are asked about them not having a plan is that “shrub got us into iraq, and its incumbent on the commander in chief to have a plan to win the peace and get the hell out. He has 3 branches of government under his countrol surely he can come up with a winning strategy to bring our troops home”
    Perhaps they could phrase as what they would do if they could?