- The Washington Times - Friday, October 3, 2008

ST. LOUIS | Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Gov. Sarah Palin clashed Thursday over Iraq, with the Democrat charging that Sen. John McCain sees “no end in sight” for the 5-year-old war and the Republican charging that Sen. Barack Obama wants to wave “the white flag of surrender.”

The two vice-presidential nominees, who by this weekend will each have a son fighting in Iraq, took diametrically opposed positions on the war, arguing over Mr. Obama’s opposition to the “surge” of troops that stabilized the country and Mr. McCain’s support of the Bush administration missteps in the war’s early years.

“I know that the other ticket opposed this surge,” said Mrs. Palin, whose son, Track, is serving in Iraq. We’re getting closer and closer to victory, and it would be a travesty if we quit now in Iraq. … Your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq.’

Mr. Biden said that there must be a timeline for withdrawal and that Iraq must step up to take the reins as he set out the “fundamental difference between us — we will end this war. For John McCain, there is no end in sight to end this war. Fundamental difference: we will end this war.”

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Each accused the other’s running mate of voting against funding for U.S. troops in combat Thursday, with Mrs. Palin chastising Mr. Biden, saying the vote was wrong, “especially with your son in the National Guard” and headed for Iraq on Friday.

“Barack Obama voted against funding troops there after promising that he would not do so. And Senator Biden, I respected you when you called him out on that. You said that his vote was political and you said it would cost lives.”

But Mr. Biden fired back that “John McCain voted against funding for the troops,” ignoring the mention of his son.

Mr. McCain, he said, had been “dead wrong on the fundamental issues relating to the conduct of the war.”

In the most highly anticipated debate of the campaign season, the nominees were cordial, often talking not to each other but directly into the camera.

“Hey, can I call you Joe?” Mrs. Palin said as the two took the stage at Washington University. They quickly became surrogates for their running mates, targeting the tops of the ticket on positions ranging from the economy to gay marriage to energy.

Throughout the debate, Mrs. Palin cast herself as an every-mom, answering a question about the proposed government bailout of Wall Street by saying that parents on the sidelines of soccer games are worried about the economy.

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