Hi.  TomP here with tonight’s Edwards Evening News Roundup.  It was a busy day and I have a lot of good stories:

1.  A Clear difference: Edwards and Clinton: Leaving or Staying in Iraq: Combat Troops.

2.  Edwards opposes anti-worker Peru Trade Agreement; Clinton and Obama support it.

3.  A new endorsement in Iowa.

There’s a lot of news, but these threee stores are key tonight.  We’ll have an indepth focus on the first story.  Come around and enjoy EENR!

1.  A Clear difference: Edwards and Clinton: Leaving or Staying in Iraq: Combat Troops.

Combat Missions? Clinton, Edwards Spar

Edwards has been criticizing Clinton for her plan to continue combat missions against al-Qaida in Iraq. His campaign says that would be a continuation of what it calls the “U.S. occupation” that he will end if elected president.

Edwards says that doesn’t mean he’ll stop fighting against terrorists in Iraq. The difference, he told The Boston Globe in an article published Thursday, is that his counterterrorism missions would be based in Kuwait and elsewhere in the Middle East and conduct quick “expeditions” into Iraq.

“We’re battling Al Qaeda all over the world right now and we don’t occupy countries to do it,” he said. “We don’t have to occupy Iraq.”

Snip

As president, Edwards says he would immediately withdraw 40,000 to 50,000 combat troops and bring the remaining troops home by the end of his first year in office, with the exception of a small military presence to protect the US Embassy. He said he believes a withdrawal would improve the prospects for political reconciliation in Iraq and for regional diplomacy to help stabilize the country, but acknowledged there are no guarantees.

“No one knows what’s going to happen,” Edwards said.

“Keeping troops in Iraq is “like putting a target on the foreheads of American combat troops who stay there ,” Edwards said.

AP

Here’s my view: the key difference between Edwards and Clinton is where the remaining trooops will be: inside or outside Iraq.  That difference matters.

Having troops based in Iraq, as Clinton will, means they have to be ON BASES in Iraq!  That is at least a semi-permanent presence.  Having them stationed outside Iraq in Quick Reaction Forces and moving in and out of Iraq to perform discrete counter-terrorism missions, as necessay, is fundamentally different.

Why?

In Iraq, the tropps are:

1.  Sitting ducks for attacks by Iraq insurgents: Keeping troops in Iraq is “like putting a target on the foreheads of American combat troops who stay there,” Edwards said.

2.  they are STILL occupiers of Iraq, even if only symbolically.  This, in turn, drives the insurgency;

3.  If they are in Iraq, the temptation to use them will bve overwhelming.  Inevitably, they will be pulled into extra and different missions. It’s called mission creep;

4.  Iraquis will never be forced to move toward the political solution necessary so long as they have the crutch of American troops.

Clinton’s choice to leave sgnificant combat troops in Iraq for combat missions means NOT ENDING THE OCCUPATION.

Edwards spokesman Chris Kofinis:

“While John Edwards has clearly stated that he will end the U.S. occupation of Iraq, Senator Clinton says she will continue the occupation, keeping combat troops stationed in Iraq for combat missions.”

“Not only has Senator Clinton refused to commit to a timeline for troop withdrawal, she has also stated repeatedly she will continue to use combat troops stationed in Iraq for counterterrorism missions, to fight Iran, protect the Kurds and protect our oil interests.”

AP

“No more than a brigade of troops would remain to protect humanitarian workers and our embassy in Iraq – just as we do in countries across the world.  Stationed in neighboring countries, Quick Reaction Forces would no longer be symbols of an occupation and would continue to work against the emergence of an al Qaeda safe haven in Iraq.”

2. The Anti-Worker Peru Trade Pact Passes the House.

Clinton and Obama support it; John Edwards stands and fights for working people by opposing the New NAFTA.

  a. Edwards Statement On House Passage Of Peru Trade Deal

I’m disappointed by today’s vote to approve the Peru trade deal and expand the failed NAFTA model that has cost us more than a million jobs.

However, I congratulate the 132 members – including a majority of the voting House Democrats – for their courage in standing up and voting against this flawed deal. The vote should be an alarm bell for President Bush: other flawed trade deals, including South Korea and Columbia, need to be improved before they are brought before Congress.

“I believe that American workers and businesses can compete with any worker or company in the world as long as our government stands up and fights for a level playing field. American workers deserve trade agreements that strengthen and maintain, rather than undercut and erode, labor rights, environmental standards and wages.”

  b. Edwards Statement On Senator Clinton’s Support For The Peru Trade Deal

“I am terribly disappointed by Senator Clinton’s support for the Peru trade deal. At a time when millions of Americans are concerned about losing their jobs and the economy, it is dismaying that Senator Clinton would side with corporations, their lobbyists and the Bush Administration in support of a flawed trade deal that expands the NAFTA model.

“As I have said before, there are real and serious differences in this presidential race, and our stands on this trade deal are another example. Whereas voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and all across America have learned that I will fight for safe and smart trade, now they see that Senator Clinton, by supporting this trade deal, has chosen to follow a very different path.

“It’s time for Senator Clinton to stand up for working Americans and stop defending corporate lobbyists and a broken system in Washington.”

3.  An Endorsement in Iowa coming tomorrow!

Edwards To Be Endorsed By Key Iowa Group

By Greg Sargent – November 8, 2007

I’ve just learned from several sources that John Edwards will be endorsed by the fiscal group Iowans for Sensible Priorities, a very good get for Edwards in the key early-primary state.

snip

We have 10,000 Iowans who have taken a pledge saying they will vote in the caucuses and only support a candidate who supports shifting 15% of wasteful Pentagon spending into other priorities,” Ms. Huptert said, describing her group’s litmus test issue.

TPM

And that’s the Edwards News for tonight.  There’s a lot more, but this is all I can fit for now!

Update from our intrepid EENR reporters:

The decision to endorse Edwards over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama came down to “courage versus caution,” according to the group’s executive director. “There’s a rhetoric gap with Obama,” executive director Peggy Huppert told ABC News. “He told me personally: ‘Trust me. Ideologically, I’m with you.’ But people have told him to be afraid of being pushed too far to the left. He doesn’t bring up [cuts in Pentagon spending] on his own. He doesn’t incorporate it into his speeches. He skirts around it. He talks around the edges. He never gets to the heart of it in strong, bold language.”

abcnews