- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A larger military

Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson argued yesterday for increased military spending and said soldiers fighting in Iraq need better equipment and effective leaders.

“We’re going to have to spend more money for the kind of threats, the old kind and the new kind,” said the former senator from Tennessee. “We’re going to have to have a larger military; we’re going to have to work closer with our allies.”

Mr. Thompson made his comments on the fourth day of a visit to Iowa, where the presidential campaign’s leadoff caucuses are scheduled for January. He mixed support for the Iraq war with criticism of how it has been conducted, the Associated Press reports.

Speaking to about 75 people in Fort Dodge, he said of U.S. troops, “They should have the best support and equipment, and the leaders ought to know what they’re doing.”

Meeting later with reporters, Mr. Thompson said the United States initially misjudged the war.

“We clearly did not anticipate what we were confronting there, and I don’t think we went into this with enough troops and I don’t think we had all the equipment we needed,” he said.

He blamed some of that on reductions in military spending that accompanied the end of the Cold War.

“We cut back on those things and a lot of those chickens are coming home to roost,” Mr. Thompson said. “Our military is stretched thin and we’ve got a lot of worn-out equipment.”

Warner hospitalized

Sen. John W. Warner was admitted to a hospital yesterday to correct an irregular heartbeat, his office said.

The Virginia Republican underwent a procedure to correct an atrial fibrillation at Inova Fairfax Hospital in suburban Virginia, according to a statement issued by his office.

A second, routine procedure will be performed today, and doctors expect Mr. Warner, 80, to be home for the weekend and return to work next week, the statement said.

Mr. Warner announced Aug. 31 that he will not seek a sixth term in 2008.

His office said the senator came to work yesterday and handled some appointments before going to the Capitol physician’s office at midmorning, the Associated Press reported. He returned to his office for additional meetings, then left in the afternoon for an appointment at the hospital.

Biden backers

Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden Jr. remains mired in single digits in Iowa polls, but he’s racking up support from the state’s legislators.

The senator from Delaware has the backing of 10 legislators, including the House majority leader. That makes him at least competitive with top-tier rivals Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, who has one more endorsement, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who garnered the most endorsements. He has more endorsements than former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who is vying with Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton for the lead in Iowa polls.

Mr. Biden said the endorsements demonstrate that local politicians think he has a shot at winning the nomination.

State lawmakers know the ins and outs of the caucuses, and they “wouldn’t be endorsing me if they didn’t think I could win in Iowa,” Mr. Biden said in an interview with the Associated Press.

And, he said, their support could be crucial in the days leading to the caucuses.

“An endorsement in a caucus state from someone who gets out and knocks on doors and has an organization is significantly more valuable,” Mr. Biden said.

McCain vs. Clinton

Sen. John McCain of Arizona is accusing Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton of indecisiveness on foreign policy, arguing that the nation can’t afford a post-September 11 commander in chief who employs a “triangulation” policy.

In prepared remarks, the Republican presidential candidate assails the senator from New York and indirectly singles out former President Bill Clinton. During his administration, some advisers urged Mr. Clinton to make policy decisions by splitting the difference on opposing views, which became known as triangulation.

The Associated Press obtained excerpts of Mr. McCain’s remarks.

Later yesterday, Mr. McCain said he had not seen the remarks prepared for him, “but I will look at them very carefully,” he said.

Campaign spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said that although Mr. McCain had not seen the language in the speech about Mrs. Clinton, he still plans to deliver the critique.

“The Democratic front-runner wants to have it both ways when it comes to foreign policy. On the one hand, the New York senator voted for the Iraq war. On the other hand, she now opposes it — sort of. On the one hand, she wants a firm deadline for retreat. But, on the other hand, she says we cannot abandon the nation to Iran’s designs,” Mr. McCain says in the remarks prepared for his delivery today at a South Carolina military academy.

“Senator Clinton, this is not the ‘90s,” Mr. McCain says. “This is the post-September 11 world. The commander in chief does not enjoy the luxury to conduct our national security by means of triangulation.”

The Clinton campaign said the two senators, both members of the Armed Services Committee, “have an honest disagreement on the war.”

“Senator McCain is the Senate’s biggest supporter of President Bush’s escalation there. Senator Clinton wants to end the war and when she is president she will,” said Zac Wright, Mrs. Clinton’s South Carolina spokesman.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washington times.com.

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