The Associated Press covers the attacks on Jeff Merkley by the Oregon GOP - pretending that his vote to support the troops in 2003 was a vote in favor of the Iraq War:
Ever since Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley announced plans to challenge U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith in 2008, Republicans have been trying to make campaign fodder of Merkley's 2003 vote for a state House resolution expressing support for U.S. troops in Iraq. ...
"Merkley can't have it both ways," said Oregon GOP spokesman Shawn Cleave. "If he is going to build his campaign against Gordon Smith on this one issue, then he is going to have to explain his own vote on the Iraq war."
For the first time, Steve Novick also raised the issue - and agreed with the GOP's description of the vote.
"It is coming up as an issue," Novick said in an interview with The Associated Press in which he made it clear he plans to talk about the House resolution in the campaign's coming months.
"I think there will be a lot of Democrats who will want to vote for someone who loudly, proudly and at every opportunity expressed his opposition to the war," said Novick. ...
"A lot of Democratic voters have been demoralized for years because they feel their leaders have missed opportunities along the way to take a strong stand against the war," he said.
The Merkley campaign, meanwhile, wouldn't attack Novick - and continued to point out that the 2003 vote was in support of the troops, and that Merkley opposed the war from the outset.
Merkley's campaign said it would have no direct comment on Novick's assertions about Merkley's vote on the House resolution.
"Jeff Merkley knows that the best way to help Gordon Smith get re-elected is for Democrats to attack each other," Merkley spokesman Jon Isaacs said. ...
Merkley, for his part, has said he was only expressing his support for U.S. troops in voting for the nonbinding state resolution.
Further, the Portland Democrat gave a floor speech the day the resolution was considered in which he said he was "not today persuaded that Iraq was a significant threat to the United States or that the war we fight today is the best strategy to fight terrorism or the wisest application of our superpower resources."
Read the rest of the AP story. Additional blog coverage:
Loaded Orygun channels Novick:
The Iraq vote was not a vote to "support the troops;" it was a baiting tactic to get Democrats on the record for the whole shitbag we all now hold. And instead of thinking "I don't want to be seen as not supporting the war," Novick's point is that the proper response is "This bill is a bullshit bill, and you don't vote Yes on bullshit, even if there's a lollipop hidden in the manure." So far, Merkley has only responded to the Republican argument; if he intends to treat the more salient argument as an attack, will he leave some voters wondering how they should view him when their questions turn "to the bill," as they say?
NW Republican repeats the GOP line:
The fact is that Merkley supported the war in Iraq before he opposed it. Much like Sen. Gordon Smith. So the Iraq votes will not be an issue if Merkley is the one to clear the Democrat primary. Smith is in essence innoculated from the issue.
Senate Guru calls this entire argument "dishonest and shameful":
Supporting the troops and supporting the war are two very different things - which is why it also bothers me that Oregon Republicans are dishonestly trying to turn Speaker Jeff Merkley's vote back in 2003 for a resolution in the Oregon House meant as a show of support for our troops into some sort of declaration of support for the war, as though it somehow exonerates Gordon Smith from his election cycle conversion on Iraq. Dishonest and shameful.