Democratic candidate for Senate Bill Bradbury gave a speech in opposition to President Bush’s resolution allowing unilateral action in Iraq on Wednesday on the second floor of Portland State University’s Urban Center.
Flanked by former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Victor Vasquez, Oregon Secretary of State Bradbury said that his position was not politically driven.
“Everywhere I go in Oregon people ask me about Iraq,” Bradbury said. “It’s an issue on people’s minds.”
The room of the Urban Center was overflowing, and Bradbury received applause when he declared his position on the president’s resolution.
“You’ve clearly just displayed that Oregonians are independent thinkers,” he said. “Our greatest leaders, like [former U.S. Senators] Wayne Morse and Mark Hatfield, have recognized the importance of asking hard questions.”
The U.S. House is expected to vote today on the Bush’s resolution. The Senate may vote on a similar resolution next week.
The proposed legislation makes an exception to the United States’ pre-emptive strike rule, allowing the president to use military action against Iraq if diplomatic measures fail to rid it of weapons of mass destruction. In the past, pre-emptive strikes have only been allowed when there was a clear threat to the nation’s national security.
Bradbury believes the threat is unsubstantiated.
“I have not yet heard any clear and convincing evidence to justify the authorization of immediate pre-emptive, unilateral action against Iraq,” he said.
He cited a declassified CIA letter from Oct. 7 that Bradbury said “concludes Iraq does not appear to be planning or sponsoring terrorism aimed at the United States.”
Underlining the fragility of the international coalition involved in the war on terrorism, Bradbury suggested that any pre-emptive action in Iraq could jeopardize international support.
Bradbury shared the concerns of Gen. Wesley Clark, former supreme commander of allied forces in Europe. According to Clark, a unilateral invasion of Iraq “would super-charge recruiting for al-Qaida.”
In response to allegations that the Bush administration’s interest in Iraq is fueled by its wealth of oil reserves, Bradbury underlined his support for renewable energy resources.
“I’m a strong supporter of renewable energy development,” he said. “I think that is definitely a way we should go instead of drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.”
Acknowledging that Republican candidate for Senate Gordon Smith and he disagree on the topic of military action in Iraq, Bradbury said he doesn’t believe the campaign would be driven by the issue.
“I do not believe this is a referendum on military action,” he said.
Bradbury’s speech comes after a recent poll by KGW Channel 8 in Portland showing Bradbury 23 percentage points behind Smith in the race for senator, and a recent Oregonian article in which Bradbury spokeswoman Kim Baldwin alleged that Smith was evading debating Bradbury.
Smith has agreed to two debates, one Oct. 21 in Portland and the other Oct. 23 in Medford.
Bradbury dismissed the poll.
“There are polls that show lots of different things, and I’m happy to say we’ll be able to meet our goals in this campaign and offer Oregonians a very clear alternative,” he said.