Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 615
Following Bill Richardson and John Edwards, Chris Dodd today launched campaign ads in Iowa and New Hampshire. The topic: Iraq.
Here's the script for the first spot, a 30-second ad called "Civil":
CHRIS DODD: Half measures won't stop this president from continuing our involvement in Iraq's civil war. That's why I'm fighting for the only responsible measure in Congress that would take away the President's blank check and set a timetable to bring our troops home.
Unfortunately, my colleagues running for President have not joined me. I'm Chris Dodd. I'm running for President. I approved this message because we can't simply wait for a new President. We should have the conviction to stand up to this one.
OK, so I guess the kidding around is just about over for Dodd. I've been seeing stuff coming out from his campaign about calling the other candidates to find out where they stand on Feingold-Reid (or, as the campaign started referring to it, "Feingold-Reid-Dodd"), calling on them to sign on as co-sponsors, even the (desperately needed) update to Dodd's website. But this is a pretty in your face move, and it looks like Dodd is swinging at everybody: Clinton, Edwards, Obama, Richardson, even Biden, who's no slouch when it comes to pushing the administration on ending the war.
According to Campaign Policy Director Amos Hochstein, Dodd's stance on Iraq as embodied in his support for Feingold-Reid offers a "clear difference" between his position and those of the other candidates. After hearing the campaign's pitch on this on a conference call today, I'm still not convinced. I've heard variations on the "redeploy troops by March 31, 2008" from Obama, Clinton and Biden; this puts Dodd squarely in the mix here, aligning him with his Senate colleagues against the "get the troops out now" stance of Edwards, Kuchinich and Gravel. Bill Richardson's position is somewhere in between, not calling for an immediate pullout, but proposing the redeployment be completed by the end of 2007, rather than March 2008.
That said, I think this is the right time for Dodd to make this kind of move: the fundraising process stories have receded, the top three candidates are playing so safe that they're in danger of atrophy, and Dodd has an opportunity to use these ads for two purposes: first, to generate some much needed name recognition in Iowa and New Hampshire, and second, to promote his Iraq policy and draw distinctions between his proposals and those of the others in the Democratic field.