Iraq War Takes Center Stage in Congressional Debate

(Created: Saturday, September 9, 2006 1:43 PM EDT)
U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, D-8th, and his two challengers detailed strategies for pulling out from Iraq that differed mainly in the shadings, during a candidate forum kicking off Arlington's campaign season on Sept. 5.

Moran, Republican Tom O'Donoghue and independent Jim Hurysz all criticized the Bush administration for its handling of the war, but differed in how the United States can depart while maintaining stability in the Middle East.

The trio squared off at the Arlington County Civic Federation's annual candidate night, held at Virginia Hospital Center.

“Iraq is a fiasco,” eight-term incumbent Moran said, accusing the Bush administration of being one of the most fiscally irresponsible in American history.

Moran's proposal: Start phasing out troops in Iraq now, with a goal of being down to a force of about 50,000 by next year - and staying out of harm's way if the country degenerates into civil war.

Republican O'Donoghue also pulled few punches on the administration's handling of Iraq. But he said the nation must avoid a precipitous pull-out of troops.

“We need milestones on the ground and to make tangible achievements,” he said. “Soldiers need to stay in Iraq to stabilize the country and to stop a wider war.”

Hurysz said the United States must turn to other countries. Building up a multi-national peace-keeping force, similar to the one currently present in Lebanon, is needed to keep the peace in Iraq, he said.

And, he said, the Iraqis should bear the cost of peace-keeping operations, as they are sitting on billions of barrels of oil.

Energy efficiency and the environment also were topics of discussion during the 30-minute forum.

Hurysz offered the most specific proposals, ranging from replacing incandescent lighting with more efficient alternatives; increasing tax credits for energy-efficient homes; and supporting initiatives to increase solar and wind power.

“We need to move technology from research and development to the citizens,” he said.

Moran stated that the energy crisis is possibly the United States' biggest threat. He advocated for efficiency incentives, “green buildings” and second-generation hybrid vehicles as ways to lessen dependence on environmentally unfriendly energy sources.

O'Donoghue's position was much in the same vein. He stated that, “there has been a leadership failure,” and that he is a leader who will invest in new technologies to reduce the need for foreign oil.

The 8th District includes all of Arlington and the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church, as well as parts of Fairfax County out to Reston.

The district was re-drawn after the 2000 federal census by the Republican General Assembly to include as many Democrats as possible, in an effort to protect the districts of Republican U.S. Reps. Frank Wolf (R-10th) and Tom Davis (R-11th).

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