Skip to comments.Gore Iraq Speech Could Galvanize Anti-War Forces - Zogby
Posted on 09/24/2002 1:50:31 PM PDT by Shermy
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A fierce attack on President Bush ( news - web sites)'s Iraq policy issued by former Vice President Al Gore ( news - web sites) could help galvanize U.S. opposition to a new Gulf war ( news - web sites) while serving as a launching pad for Gore's probable 2004 presidential campaign, analysts said on Tuesday.
In a speech in San Francisco, the defeated 2000 Democratic presidential nominee on Monday laid out a scathing critique of Bush's Iraq policy.
Pollster John Zogby said Gore's message was "very well timed."
"Gore stepped in just as it appeared that pro-war sentiment would go virtually unchallenged in Congress and in the country," Zogby said. "There will be an anti-war movement that grows out of this."
Democrats in the U.S. Congress, acutely aware the mid-term elections that will decide control of both houses of Congress are only six weeks away, have been wary of speaking out against Bush on Iraq. Their main tactic has been to try to change the subject to domestic issues but with scant success.
Bush has been pressing Congress to debate Iraq and endorse his policy within the next couple of weeks before lawmakers leave Washington for the election campaign rather than waiting until mid-November.
"Gore put forward some legitimate and substantive arguments which might make it possible for the country to have a real debate. That makes him stand out among the various potential Democratic presidential candidates," said Steven Wayne, a political scientist at Georgetown University.
Gore, who as a senator supported the 1991 Gulf War, laid out several objections to Bush's determination to remove President Saddam Hussein ( news - web sites) from power, if necessary by force and with the United States acting alone.
He said a war against Iraq distracted attention from the war against terrorism and the need to stabilize Afghanistan ( news - web sites). It also alienated and frightened U.S. allies, would cost billions of dollars and might leave Iraq so unstable and disorganized it would become even more dangerous to the United States.
"The resulting chaos in the aftermath of a military victory with Iraq could easily pose a far greater danger to the United States than does Saddam," Gore said.
A number of analysts said on Tuesday the speech marked the beginning of Gore's quest for the presidency in 2004.
"He is asserting his leadership of the Democratic Party and kicking off his 2004 campaign. If the Iraq war does go sour, Gore will become the 'I told you so' guy and will look like a prophet," said American University historian Allan Lichtman.
Polls show the administration has made substantial progress in recent weeks in convincing Americans it was vital to rid the world of Saddam, who Bush says is developing weapons of mass destruction and backing international terrorism.
But only around 52 percent of Democrats support the war, leaving Gore giving a voice to a substantial constituency within his own party, many frustrated with the timidity of their congressional leaders.
"Gore is trying to present himself as the only Democrat with backbone and the guts to take on the president," said Tom DeLuca, a political scientist with Fordham University in New York.
When voters were asked if they would still support a war with Iraq if it involved substantial U.S. casualties and resulted in U.S. troops remaining as an occupying power for a substantial period of time, support fell well below 50 percent, according to Zogby.
Still, around 60 percent of Americans now seem to support the idea of toppling Saddam, even though they would prefer to see Bush secure United Nations ( news - web sites) backing and go into combat with some allies alongside him, polls show.
And all the war talk seems to have helped Bush and the Republicans in the buildup to the mid-term elections.
"The Bush administration has succeeded in shifting the debate from domestic issues where they are weak to Iraq and Republicans have benefited," said Democratic consultant and pollster Jennifer Laszlo.
"For instance, yesterday's news that the Nasdaq stock index hit a six-year low was pretty much buried by the president's latest comments on Iraq," she said.
Pollster Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center said Gore was taking a substantial political risk with the speech even if events proved him right.
He recalled that opponents to the Vietnam War did not fare well with voters even though that conflict turned into a disastrous defeat for the United States. At the height of the conflict, President Richard Nixon trounced dovish Democrat George McGovern in the 1972 presidential election.
"Gore is playing risky pool," Kohut said.
That's as far as I read. John Zogby is as delusional as his brother.
And that was how Sen. Albert Gore, Sr. of Tennessee was defeated for re-election in 1968.
I hardly think the monotone kid will cause that kind of excitment.
Galvanize or anesthetize?
They gave up on the economy issue long ago, though Da$chle brought it up for about 10 minutes last week.
I think both hate Israel.
One admits it and the other doesn't.
We wouldn't be in this position now, if Gore and his friend hadn't allowed the weapons inspectors tossed out during their watch.
Thank God for the current administration and it's resolve to put a stop to Saddam's build up, while there's still time!