Polis v. Fitz-Gerald Iraq Tiff Shows Campaign Trend

The little flare-up between Jared Polis and Joan Fitz-Gerald over their respective positions on the Iraq War says as much about how the CD-2 Democratic primary campaign will be run than it does about Iraq.

Polis, who is probably running second currently in the three-way race, launched an attack on Fitz-Gerald, calling on Fitz-Gerald to apologize for supporting the war in its very early stages.In a release, Polis said:

“Joan Fitz-Gerald needs to apologize to all of us in the Second Congressional District who opposed the Iraq War from the start,” stated Polis. “Fitz-Gerald ignored the correct judgment of those in the Second Congressional District and voted to support Bush and this terrible war.”

In addition to pointing out a relatively minor policy difference, Polis clearly hoped to generate some attention with a pointed criticism of his opponent on an issue that is currently heading the list with voters. And it worked a little bit.

Fitz-Gerald reacted with a detailed history of her own history on the issue, noting that she voted in 2003 to disarm Saddam — an effort that she notes was based on false information — and in favor of a resolution the same year “supporting U.S. troops” in Iraq. But she has taken firm positions against the war ever since.

Fitz-Gerald campaign manager Mary Alice Mandarich said in a release:

“Senator Fitz-Gerald has been a strong and courageous leader fighting for change here in Colorado, and demanding an end to the war in Iraq is no exception.  Jared Polis is distorting Joan’s record on the war when it is clear where she stands on Iraq – ending this war immediately.  This is a time when democrats need to be united against George W. Bush to end this war.  I am disappointed that Jared is attempting to divide us on the most critical issue facing the nation.”

While the brouhaha shows the candidates scurrying to take the high road to early disengagement on the Iraq War, it also shows a preview of the way the campaign is likely to play out over the next several months. The policy differences among the three candidates are relatively minor, so each must distinguish himself (or herself) somehow. Polis will attack Fitz-Gerald’s voting record where he can, Fitz-Gerald will respond to critique, and third candidate Will Shafroth will stand diplomatically outside the fray, hoping no collateral damage accrues to him.

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Dan Whipple

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