To Gina Cooper and the YearlyKos planning committee, the more than 1,000 of you that were in the conference hall, and the tens of thousands more that were with us in spirit online, thank you so much for inviting me to join you and for giving me such a warm reception in Las Vegas.
Speaking with you at YearlyKos was exhilarating because it reminded me of what democracy is all about -- and what America can be all about once more, if we keep fighting for what we believe. After joining you in Las Vegas, I'm more confident than ever that we can take back Congress this November -- but it's going to take all of us pulling together online, and reaching into our offline communities, to get it done.
More below the flip.
One of the toughest issues we continue to face is the war in Iraq. As I told you at YearlyKos, I recently introduced a resolution in the Senate that calls on the Bush Administration to redeploy U.S. forces from Iraq within 6 months or earlier, if practicable. My resolution also calls for a quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon Marine presence to be deployed in the region.
This week, the Senate will be voting on a similar resolution written by John Kerry, Russ Feingold, and me. The other side says this policy is "cut and run." I disagree. Our call for an exit strategy is "smart and strategic." It is smart because it calls on the Iraqis to take over their own country. It is strategic because it allows us to target our limited resources to the war on terror where they can best be used to keep America safe.
Sticking with the President's "stay the course" plan means leaving our brave men and women in the middle of an Iraqi civil war where their mere presence makes them targets for the Iraqi insurgency and fosters an environment of terrorism. And that's absolutely unacceptable.
After three long years, the deaths of more than 2,500 American troops, more than 18,000 wounded, and the deaths of more than 40,000 Iraqis, it's beyond time to bring our mission in Iraq to a close.
Today, with Democrats and even many Republicans urging the President to change course, we have a chance to do just that.
It's time for Congress to clearly say "enough is enough" and force the President to act. It's time for Democrats and Republicans to unify behind a plan to bring our troops home. You can help me make that happen -- today -- by urging your Senators to sign on to our resolution to end the war in Iraq.
The Bush Administration misled us into an elective war that we didn't have to fight. Despite President Bush's mistakes, mismanagement, and misleading statements, our brave men and women in uniform have performed admirably, successfully meeting every goal that was set for them -- from capturing Saddam Hussein and freeing the Iraqi people to training Iraqi security forces and fostering the creation of an Iraqi government. Now it should be up to the people of Iraq to decide what kind of future they want.
It is completely unacceptable to me to see our government paralyzed over a failed policy -- a policy that is bringing so much pain to so many. The Bush Administration's open-ended commitment in Iraq is not only causing death and destruction to our brave troops, it's also serving as a catalyst for further terrorist recruitment.
It's time for the Iraqis to assume responsibility for their own country.
We can't afford to lose more American lives over a failed policy -- especially when our men and women in uniform have done everything we've asked of them.
P.S. Thanks again for inviting me to join you in Las Vegas. I was truly honored and moved by your enthusiastic reception. Your support keeps me fighting each and every day in the U.S. Senate!
UPDATE (4pm ET): Thanks so much for all of your feedback and comments. I've answered a number of them below. Now I'm off to prepare for my floor speech about the Kerry/Feingold/Boxer amendment this afternoon. I hope many of you tune in!