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Feingold Says Centrist DLC Consultants 'Instill Fear in Democrats'
David A. Wise
August 9, 2006

MILWAUKEE -- Democratic U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold knocked the centrist Democratic Leadership Council today, saying its strategy of hoping to win by being "a little different than Republicans" hasn't worked. He also accused the group's adherents of instilling fear in Democrats who oppose the war.

"They are the ones that coalesced with the big corporations to pass unfair trade agreements that hurt America," Feingold said. "It was the DLC that came up with the health care plan with the Clintons that was so complicated nobody could understand it. It's the DLC that has cut off our ability to say things like, "Let's get out of Iraq because it's a bad idea.'"

Feingold said DLC consultants "instill fear in Democrats" by saying opposition to the war would be taken as not supporting the troops. "What I want is us to get the right answer whether it's liberal, conservative or middle of the road," Feingold said.

Democrats should not try to be just "a little different than the Republicans and hope that we win," Feingold said. "I think that's what (the DLC) brought us and it hasn't worked."

During the roughly hour-long luncheon in Milwaukee hosted by WisPolitics.com and the Milwaukee Press Club, Feingold answered questions from a panel of journalists and from the audience of about 60 people.

Feingold also rebuked U.S. Rep Jim Sensenbrenner for "standing in the way of immigration reform."

Feingold said he agrees on the need for tough border enforcement to stop illegal immigration, but called Sensenbrenner's plan for dealing with illegal immigrants already here "irresponsible" and called for the creation of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

"I think that the idea that this man is trying to stand in the way of immigration reform in this country is a tragedy,' Feingold said. "He is standing in the way. He is one of the people most standing in the way of trying to solve this problem."

Although Feingold touched on issues such as education, health care, renewable energy and affordable housing, many of his comments focused on the Iraq war.

Feingold said Connecticut U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman's primary loss to anti-Iraq war candidate Ned Lamont is a warning that the Iraq war is an issue that won't go away and be replaced by other issues.

The Iraq war has been a "disastrous mistake," he said, and warned politicians that "you are simply not listening if you don't know the American people have had it with this mistake and want it to end."

Feingold called for Democrats to be bold and said Democrats "should not be afraid to say we will be tough militarily and otherwise when we need to be. But we need to say we'll be smarter about it and do a better job."

He also repeated his call for a public timetable of withdrawal for the bulk of American troops in Iraq, and said the country's presence there has created a militaristic environment and that it fuels the insurgency and sectarian violence.

Feingold said he believes if America left Iraq violence would decline, but said that even it didn't, "we have a greater responsibility to the American people to protect our national security" and that the Iraq war has drained resources for combating terrorism elsewhere.

Feingold also touched on his presidential aspirations and said he would wait until after the November elections to see if his positions are resonating with the public.

Feingold said he would only run if he felt he could win both the nomination and the general election, adding that he wouldn't join the race just to make a statement.

-- By David A. Wise

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