Swinging on the Exit Strategy - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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With the economy spinning out of control, the war in Iraq is no longer the No. 1 issue on the minds of American voters, but it is still an issue by which Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain stand diametrically opposed. It is also issue that is poised to swing states to the left or right.

There is no confusing the candidates’ positions on the Iraq war. John McCain, the Republican nominee, strongly disagrees with any plan that would withdraw troops from Iraq before the Iraqi government is capable of governing itself and safeguarding its people.

Barack Obama has called for an “expeditious yet responsible exit from Iraq,” and had introduced legislation in the Senate to remove all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by March 2008.

“The Iraq war is highly unpopular across the board in every state, and many Republicans are even souring on it,” says Patrick Ottenhoff, an online strategist at New Media Strategies and author of TheElectoralMap.com, a blog relating politics with geography.

Polls show that McCain carries the burden of proof about convincing Americans that continuing to occupy Iraq is in the country’s best interest. According to a Gallup poll conducted in June 2007, 60% of adults said they would vote for a presidential candidate who supports legislation that includes a timetable for removing U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2008.

Since then, opposition to the war in Iraq has reached an all-time high. Sixty-three percent of Americans say Iraq was a mistake. The cost of the war has reached more than $525 billion dollars and claimed some 4,000 U.S. fatalities. Fifty-nine percent of Americans want withdrawal within a year, Rasmussen polls report.

“All of the research indicates that people want the troops home in a very reasonable amount of time,” says Silas Lee, a political pollster and professor at Xavier University in New Orleans. By aligning himself with conservative Republicans on the issue of Iraq, McCain could potentially alienate himself from moderate/liberal Republicans.

Another Gallup poll from February 2008 suggests that the spectrum of Republican opinion on what to do about the war is broad. At 81%, the Democrats have a greater margin in favor of a withdrawal timetable than opposed (15%). Although most Republicans (65%) reject the idea of creating a timetable for leaving Iraq, 32% are in favor of it.

“We have to be very careful about how we dissect the withdrawal strategy. The challenge for McCain is the fact that he did authorize funds for the war, but he has also made some strong statements being very critical about the war,” Lee says.

Of the Republicans who consider themselves moderate to liberal, 49% favor a timetable for withdrawal; 40% are twice as likely as conservative Republicans to say the U.S. made a mistake by getting involved in Iraq; and 52% are somewhat less optimistic than conservative Republicans (78%) that the surge is making things better.

Add to that the fact that 63% of independents believe getting involved in the war was a mistake. If the general election is nose-to-nose

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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