- The Washington Times - Monday, June 11, 2007

Clear policy differences have emerged between the hopefuls on the Democratic and Republican tickets and last week’s debates provided an outline of where the parties diverge regardless of which candidates win the 2008 presidential nominations.

The Republicans would make English the official language; all but one of the Democrats disagree. The Democrats would scrap “don’t ask, don’t tell”; the Republicans would keep the military policy on homosexuals. Republicans would rather use pre-emptive force against a nuclear Iran; while the Democrats prefer diplomacy.

“The differences among us are minor. The differences between us and the Republicans are major,” said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, at last week’s debate “I don’t want anybody in America to be confused.”

“Someone would have had to have slept through both debates to think that there are no differences,” former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican, said yesterday on CNN.

On Iran, the Democrats at the debate favored talks to avoid another war like the one in Iraq, and Republicans accused the other party of weakness.

“The Democrats … don’t seem to have gotten beyond the Cold War,” said former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani at the Republican debate, accusing the Democrats of being “in denial” for saying Iran is 10 years from having nuclear weapons.

He was referring to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr., who said at his party’s debate that the United States should end its “regime change” policy on Iran.

“What we’re saying to everybody in Iran is … give up the one thing that keeps us from attacking you, and after that, we’re going to attack you, we’re going to take you down,” the Delaware Democrat said. “Understand how weak Iran is. … They are a decade away from being able to weaponize.”

Mr. Giuliani countered this assertion, saying, “The danger to us is not just missiles. The danger to us is a state like Iran handing nuclear weapons over to terrorists.”

Mrs. Clinton said diplomacy is “way overdue” with Iran, and talks should be a starting point while saying, “Iran having a nuclear weapon is absolutely unacceptable.”

“We need a process of engagement,” she said. “The president’s policy has been: We don’t talk in this administration to people we don’t agree with or that we think are bad. All during the Cold War, we always talked to the Soviet Union.”

Former Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat, noted a “long history of pro-American sentiment in Iran.” He said he would make nuclear fuel available to Iran but keep it under the control of the international community and forbid its weaponization, and would impose “serious” economic sanctions.

“This is the clear path … no president, no responsible president, would ever take any option off the table,” he said.

But Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, said talking with terrorist states such as Iran is only sometimes acceptable, such as before the war in Afghanistan.

“We didn’t open up formal diplomatic relations and we shouldn’t,” he said. “We have to show that purpose and resolve, that we’re going to confront these guys and we’re going to stand with our allies like Israel, we’re going to stand against them oppressing and pushing us, and trying to fund terrorists against us.”

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