Adviser regrets pushing Edwards on Iraq
WASHINGTON --Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards was skeptical about voting for the Iraq war resolution and was pushed into it by advisers looking out for his political future, according to an upcoming book by one of his former consultants.
Democratic strategist Bob Shrum writes in his memoir to be published in June that he regrets advising Edwards to give President Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq. He said if Edwards had followed his instincts instead of the advice of political professionals, he would have been a stronger presidential candidate in 2004.
Edwards said he had "no idea" what meeting Shrum was talking about. He said he hasn't read the book, so he could not address specific details.
"It was not a political calculation," Edwards told reporters after an appearance at Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C. "It was a mistake."
After standing by his vote throughout the 2004 campaign, Edwards has recently acknowledged being conflicted about his decision in October 2002 and says he made the wrong decision.
Shrum's book, "No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner," provides an account of Edwards' private discussions leading up to the decision. The Associated Press obtained excerpts from uncorrected galley proofs of the book to be published June 5 by Simon & Schuster.
Shrum writes that Edwards, then a North Carolina senator, called his foreign policy and political advisers together in his Washington living room in the fall of 2002 to get their advice. Edwards was "skeptical, even exercised" about the idea of voting yes and his wife Elizabeth was forcefully against it, according to Shrum, who later signed on to John Kerry's presidential campaign.
But Shrum said the consensus among the advisers was that Edwards, just four years in office, did not have the credibility to vote against the resolution and had to support it to be taken seriously on national security. Shrum said Edwards' facial expressions showed he did not like where he was being pushed to go.
Edwards spokesman Jonathan Prince said the only people who influenced Edwards' vote were his wife and foreign policy experts who worked under President Clinton and argued that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. That turned out not to be true.
Edwards has said he voted yes because he was ultimately convinced by intelligence reports on the weapons. He's said he was conflicted because he was worried that Bush wouldn't work with the international community to avoid an invasion.
Associated Press Writer Mike Baker in Greensboro, N.C., contributed to this report.
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