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In presidential debate, Democrats unite against US Iraq policy

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Eight Democrats vying for the White House were united Thursday in condemning President Bush's Iraq policy policy, at a presidential campaign debate more notable for the candidates' easy consensus than disagreement.

In the first televised debate of the 2008 campaign, more than 18 months before the November 4, 2008 election, Democrats were strongly critical of the Bush administration for continuing to funnel thousands of US troops and billions of dollars into what they see as a faltering Iraq war effort.

"The American people have said, Republicans and Democrats, that it's time to end this war," said top-tier candidate Senator Barack Obama, who aspires to become the country's first African-American president.

Obama criticized the "disastrous conditions that we've seen on the ground in Iraq."

Equally emphatic was Senator Joseph Biden, who condemned Bush's "fundamentally flawed policy."

"The real question," said Biden, "is are we going to be able to leave Iraq, get our troops out, and leave behind something other than chaos?"

The candidates pressed the case for a dramatic policy change in Iraq, armed with poll results showing a majority of Americans backing the Democratic push for a troop pullout.

Thursday's debate also was seen as a key step for each candidate in helping raise funds and attract staff, in what is becoming the longest and most expensive campaign for the US presidency in history. Read full story here.


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