‘Nobody Is In Favor of the War,’ Mayor Says Before Backing Down
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Mayor Bloomberg offered some insights yesterday into his thoughts on the Iraq war, declaring, “Nobody is in favor of the war” – a remark that a spokesman later clarified, explaining that the mayor supports the war.
“We all want to find a solution to this war,” Mr. Bloomberg told reporters before marching in the annual July Fourth Parade on Staten Island.
During last year’s mayoral campaign, Mr. Bloomberg’s Democratic opponent, Fernando Ferrer, needled him over his position on the Iraq war.
Yesterday, before marching through a neighborhood of homes decorated in red, white, and blue, Mr. Bloomberg said, “there are no easy answers” to the war. But, he said having Congress consider a “meaningless resolution” that says America needs to withdraw the troops at “some point” or a resolution specifying a date to end the war is not the way to go. He was referring to proposals recently rejected in Congress.
“I’ve said before I don’t know what I would have done had I been president” and was faced with the decision on the war, Mr. Bloomberg, who has been the subject of speculation as a potential candidate for the White House in 2008, said.
“I’ve said repeatedly I don’t think that fixing a date is something that is practical. You can’t have your soldiers over there fighting and dying where the enemy knows that all they’ve got to do is outwait them and build up public pressure by killing more of them,” Mr. Bloomberg, who was wearing red Bermuda shorts in honor of the holiday, said.
During last year’s mayoral campaign, Mr. Bloomberg, a lifelong Democrat who became a Republican before running for mayor, at first refused to answer questions about the war, saying it was “not a local issue.”
He then modified his view and said the war was “a national issue and a local issue” because the city has lost so many residents in the line of duty.
At that time, Mr. Bloomberg – who was courting Democratic voters – took every chance he could to point out that his view mirrored the positions of Democrats such as Senators Clinton and Schumer.
During a televised debate in November, a week before winning a landslide re-election victory, Mr. Bloomberg said while there was a “massive intelligence failure” that led the country to war, pulling out American troops before Iraq could maintain peace would be an “outrage.”
Since the start of his second term, Mr. Bloomberg has delved deeper into national issues, feeding speculation about a presidential run.
Mr. Bloomberg’s spokesman, Stuart Loeser, said via e-mail yesterday that the mayor supports the war and that there is “an enormous difference between wishing we were at war, and supporting our effort once we are at war.”
“The mayor supports the war and supports our men and women in uniform here and overseas,” Mr. Loeser said.
“Nobody wants war over peace, just as nobody would rather have terrorist attacks than not have terrorists attacks,” Mr. Loeser said.
A staff sergeant in the Marines, Camilo Melgar, who was watching the fireworks with a group of veterans last night in Manhattan, said serving in Iraq convinced him the war is necessary.
“I don’t think anyone’s in favor of war – who is? Unfortunately we are losing, lives, losing friends, but that comes with the territory,” Mr. Melgar, who re turned from Iraq last year, said.
An Army specialist, Aldo Rene Morciglio, said he too favors staying in Iraq. “They got to finish it. They started it, they got to finish it,” he said.
Sixteen months ago, Mr. Bloomberg was booed at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Staten Island, the most politically conservative borough in the city, amid complaints over a citywide ban on smoking in bars and restaurants and the failure to reach contracts with several large public employee unions. Yesterday, though, the mayor was greeted with cheers.
“I’ve been to a lot of these and Bloomberg got as strong a reception as Rudy used to get in the heyday,” said Council Member James Oddo, a Republican who represents Staten Island, referring to Mayor Giuliani, who was beloved in the borough.
Several parade goers shouted “Bloomberg for Prez!” as the mayor was walking to his SUV. One woman carrying a “Bloomberg for President” sign posed with the mayor for a photo, Mr. Oddo said. Mr. Bloomberg, who stopped at the Travis firehouse for beer and sausage after marching, has denied publicly that he wants to run, but one of his top aides has fueled several stories about a possible Bloomberg campaign.