The Lautenberg campaign issued a statement today blasting Rob Andrews for telling the Philadelphia Inquirer that “Frank Lautenberg has the same record I do.”
“The record is he was asked the question, and he said he would have voted for it,” Andrews said, referring to Lautenberg’s 2002 campaign against Republican Doug Forrester.
No objective analysis of the facts could possibly arrive at the conclusion that their records are the same. Andrews helped draft and sell the resolution supporting military force against Iraq. Lautenberg wasn’t in office at the time, though he did state his support for the resolution. Andrews voted in favor of continued funding for the war until 2005, but Lautenberg voted against it as early as October, 2003.
Andrews told the Inquirer that his opposition to the war “began in the summer of 2004 when he spoke to the Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce,” but the Lautenberg campaign points out that as late as November, 2005, Andrews told Gannet News that “[The Iraq War] removed a risk the country could not afford to bear. The fact of the matter is Saddam had the capability to produce biological and chemical weapons. Waiting would not have worked.”
Lautenberg rightly disagreed with Andrews’ characterization.
Lautenberg said yesterday that there are “enormous differences” between their records on the war.
As a candidate in 2002 without access to the intelligence that members of Congress have, Lautenberg said, “I saw the stories in the news and thought it might be a good idea to get rid of Saddam.”
Once inside the Senate in 2003, “I voted against funding, and Rob Andrews led the parade for this. He helped write the legislation. He was the one who sent the troops into Iraq. He was the one who supported the president’s initiatives.”
It’s true that he has voted against the war every chance he’s had, but Lautenberg’s support for the war wasn’t limited to his statements while campaigning in November, 2002. Having access to whatever information Members of Congress have access to didn’t lead him to immediately change his mind.
In fact five months after the election and three months after joining the Senate, Lautenberg was still touting his support for the war [April 8, 2003 press conference] (emphasis added):
Certainly, we didn’t ask Saddam Hussein to continue with his — with the president’s request for volunteering the information that they had there. Instead, we trotted out the Army, the Navy, the Marines and everybody to make sure that we shut down the possibility that one day, one day that Saddam Hussein and Iraq might come and threaten our people and our safety. And I approved of the president’s action in this case.
Undoubtedly, Senator Lautenberg has a much stronger, longer and vocal record of opposing this misguided war, while Congressman Andrews was an architect of the legislation and helped lend “bipartisan” credibility to the effort. Lautenberg’s campaign is right to object that their records are nowhere close to “the same”, but both campaigns are going to develop a credibility problem if they don’t stick to the facts and treat the voters with a little more respect.