From NBC's Lindsey Pritzlaff
One criticism of Democrats in past elections is that they have railed against President Bush on Iraq without having a plan of their own. But 38 Democratic House challengers along with four Senate contenders have decided to run on a common platform outlining a strategy of withdrawal from Iraq.
Several of these candidates held a conference call today to discuss what they call, "A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq." The plan was introduced about a week and a half ago, after six months of preparation. The plan combines existing legislation in Congress, packaged by Darcy Burner, a candidate for Washington's eighth congressional district, with assistance from national security experts and retired generals.
"This plan offers a path out of Iraq. This administration has built a parking lot to keep us there," said Eric Massa, who is running in New York's 29th district. Massa added that much of the American public falsely believes that their only choices are between cutting and running and staying forever.
"Over the course of running for office, the first question I was being asked was not, 'Are you going to end the War?' but, how to end the war in Iraq," Burner said, adding the plan "articulates what a responsible end looks like."
The plan calls for a combination of political, diplomatic and economic power to responsibly end the war. What the plan does not include is a timeline for withdrawal. Burner said there is too much of a focus on the military portion of the policy and, therefore, on troop levels and timelines. The plan does address the need to begin a draw down, but "detailed logistics need to come from military leaders," Burner added.
There may be support from congressional hopefuls across the country, but no leading Democrat has yet to back the platform. For one, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, proposed his own bipartisan measure in September, which passed overwhelmingly in the Senate.
"They [Congressional Democrats] have certainly done nothing to hurt us," said Burner, but added, "This was not driven inside the beltway." Burner said she found that part of voters' frustration is they feel people inside Washington, D.C. don't get it.
*** UPDATE *** Here's a link to the actual plan.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this post noted that Biden's Senate office had no comment on the plan. But the office says they may review the plan first and then issue a comment.]