backflip on iraq

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    Edwards Says He Still Would Have Voted to Authorize War in Iraq

    Oct. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards said last week's Central Intelligence Agency report confirming the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq hasn't convinced him it was a mistake to authorize President George W. Bush to take military action.

    ``The vote on the resolution was the right vote, even in hindsight,'' Edwards, a first-term U.S. senator from North Carolina, said in an interview aboard his campaign plane on Oct. 8. ``It was the right vote to give the president the authority to confront Saddam Hussein,'' he said. ``That's what would have given the president the power that would have allowed the weapons inspectors back into Iraq.''

    The comments reflect efforts by Edwards and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, the four-term senator from Massachusetts, to deflect criticism by Bush and win support among a growing number of voters critical of the war. Edwards and Kerry say the U.S. Senate vote Oct. 11, 2002 was intended to give the president more leverage against Saddam Hussein and wasn't an endorsement for invading the country.

    A Gallup Organization poll of 1,016 Americans taken Oct. 1-3 showed 48 percent said the war was a mistake, a 10 percentage- point increase from a similar poll conducted by Gallup following the Republican National Convention early last month. Fifty-one percent said the war wasn't a mistake, down 6 percentage points from the earlier poll.

    Kerry and Edwards may say their vote to authorize force wasn't a vote for immediate war, ``but from the point of view of a citizen,'' their argument is ``fairly opaque,'' said Ross Baker, a political scientist and Senate expert at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. ``The distinction I think is lost on most people,'' he said.

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