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October 02, 2007

Mitt Catches Orange

Me_mitt_5 Romney_oc_eugene_garcia_5
(photos by Chapman PR/Eugene Garcia, OC Register)

Orange, CA- Much attention has been focused on the foreign policies of our 2008 presidential hopefuls. Iraq, Iran, and the general state of peace in the Middle East have all been hot button issues for both parties. Last weekend, I attended the first of several anticipated presidential candidate forums at Chapman University, seeking some answers from one of the contenders, Republican Mitt Romney. As I anxiously waited for my first shot as a birddogger for Peace Action West, I sat in the packed Folino Theatre with several hundred GOP faithful, taking it all in, ready to be a part of the change in America.

Romney’s speech touched on several key points of his plan -- everything from raising the dollar back above the Euro to dealing with gangs in our neighborhoods. I listened closely for any dialogue relating to Peace Action West’s top two concerns -- the Iraq war and nuclear proliferation. Romney’s made his stance on a proposed US troop withdrawal in Iraq clear: he doesn’t want one. He insisted that pulling out troops would create “a safe-haven for terrorists.”

But I didn’t come to sniff out any new insight on Iraq. I was looking for Romney’s provocative position on nuclear development. He had been very outspoken in recent days against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to the United Nations assembly. In fact, several questions from the Chapman audience dealt with Iran. I prepared a cleverly crafted question:

I planned to ask, “Given your outspoken opposition to Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s visit to the UN -- for a variety of reasons, one being his interest in nuclear weapons development -- as our next president would you support funding of nuclear weapons and the facilities to build them?”

Such a direct question would either force a Yes or No or an uncomfortable indication that nuclear weapons would still be on the table.

I anxiously awaited my turn behind several others in attendance to ask my question. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to get to my question (I guess I didn’t get up soon enough!), but it’s all chalked up experience.

With Chapman scheduled to host several more presidential candidates (Democrat and Republican), you can count on my question being raised at a future event. With the help of more birddoggers, we can ensure peace and security as the leading issue of these events. A thanks goes out to Peace Action West for raising their newest birddogger.

Robby Gardner, Los Angeles intern


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Ahmadinejad has pointed out the hypocrisy of the mainstream perspective on Iran's nuclear program many times. Not only is the United States the only country to have ever used an atomic weapon aggressively, but our politicians consistently refuse to take the nuclear option "off the table." By contrast, Iran's leadership, and whether or not they are sincere can be debated, has consistently denounced the very idea of nuclear weapons. Iran is also a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty, unlike Israel, a country which is widely presumed to possess nuclear weapons.

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