From NBC's Andy Merten
What was billed as a conference call to discuss John Edwards' new counterterrorism-policy proposal quickly shifted toward the political consequences of today's Petraeus testimony on Capitol Hill. "For over a year, Sen. Edwards has proposed a plan that would withdraw 40- 50- thousand troops immediately," said Michael Signer, the campaign's deputy policy adviser for foreign affairs and national security. He added the familiar line, "There's no military solution; there's only a political solution." Signer went on to prescribe three questions in assessing Petraeus' report today and tomorrow: 1) Has the surge produced progress? 2) If not, when will it? And 3) What is the plan for American soldiers?
Several other of the campaign's security advisers joined Signer on the call. When asked about the specific numbers of remaining forces Edwards would leave in the region if elected, Signer said that exact numbers had not yet been formulated. Gordon Adams, a professor of international affairs at American University and a former member of the Clinton Administration, chimed in: "What we really talked about was how important it was to have quick reaction capability -- to have the ability to be concerned about all the issues that Iraq brings with its location between Turkey, Syria, and Iran." But he added, "We did not get down then to capabilities, talking about numbers of soldiers."
The advisers were also asked about MoveOn's full-page ad in today's New York Times, which has the headline: "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?" and which suggests that he is "cooking the books for the White House." But all five participants on the call said that they had not yet seen the ad and declined to comment.