On CNN's The Situation Room, Wolf Blitzer failed to challenge Bay Buchanan's assertion that the public would not back Democrats if they pushed for a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq. An August 3 CNN poll found that 57 percent of Americans backed a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.
On the August 9 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer left unchallenged an assertion by conservative pundit Bay Buchanan that the public would not back Democrats if they pushed for a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq. Said Buchanan, in the wake of businessman Ned Lamont's Democratic primary victory over Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman in Connecticut, "I believe there's going to be real momentum for the Democrats to come up with a timetable [for withdrawing from Iraq]. And I don't believe the American people are there." However, an August 3 CNN poll found that 57 percent of Americans backed a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Blitzer failed to note this poll result in response to Buchanan's statement, even though less than three minutes earlier, he noted the same poll's finding that 60 percent of Americans oppose the U.S. war in Iraq.
The August 3 CNN poll asked, "Which comes closer to your view about U.S. troops in Iraq? The U.S. should set a timetable for withdrawal by announcing that it will remove all of its troops from Iraq by a certain date. The U.S. should keep troops in Iraq as long as necessary without setting any timetable for withdrawal." Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed said they preferred the "timetable" option, while 40 percent opposed a timetable. The poll's margin of error on this question was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
From the August 9 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
BLITZER: But -- but, Bay, let me point out these new numbers -- and Bill Schneider just reported them as well -- in our new CNN poll.
We asked the American public, do you favor or oppose the war in Iraq, as it's unfolding right now? Thirty-six percent favor. Sixty percent, Donna and Bay -- but let me let Bay respond -- 60 percent, Bay, oppose this war. So why do you say it's a minority of the American public who are siding with Ned Lamont?
BUCHANAN: Well, I think there's -- well, now, I didn't say there's a minority. There's going to be a battle inside Connecticut for the soul of the Democratic Party.
But the key here is, if the left-wing, if the anti-war crowd gets the real momentum going here, it will not only influence what happens in Connecticut. It's going to influence what happens in '08, as they get greater and greater control, embolden their own leaders to speak out more radically.
And I think you may have a candidate in '08 that's far more to the left than maybe the Democrats want in a general election. That's where I think it's going to go, and that's why I say they should be somewhat concerned to totally energize this anti-war left wing in their own party.
DONNA BRAZILE [Democratic strategist]: Well, I can understand why --
BLITZER: All right. Let me let Donna respond to that. Donna, go ahead.
BRAZILE: Thank you, Wolf.
I can understand why the Republicans would like to see a fight within the Democratic Party. The truth is, the party is very unified. The party is unified behind Lamont. But more importantly, the party is unified on Iraq.
You saw in the polls, 60 percent of the American people believe the president has mishandled the situation. Had Joe Lieberman stood up to George Bush earlier in the campaign season, then voters would not have had to stand up to Joe Lieberman yesterday.
So, this is an opportunity to take control of Congress. This is an opportunity to send a message to the Republicans and to the rest of America that the -- that Democrats are ready to provide the leadership and to take America in a new direction.
BUCHANAN: And, Wolf, the key here --
BLITZER: But, Bay, Bay --
BLITZER: Hold on one second, Bay.
BLITZER: Hold on one second. Isn't this a win -- potentially, at least, a win-win situation for the Democrats? If Ned Lamont wins, he's a new Democratic senator from Connecticut. If Joe Lieberman wins, he's an independent, but you know, most of the time, he's going to be voting with Democrats. So, it looks like it could be a win-win for them.
BUCHANAN: Well, there's no question. There's no Republican in play up there. This is between two Democrats, this general election.
But the key is, how much of a distraction is it, Wolf? How much attention goes there, as they -- as the party takes sides in this race, the moderates against the left wing?
And, then, the key is, your polls are worrisome. There's no question. But there's a big jump between those Americans who are against this war and those who believe it's time to pull out, let's say, in six months or eight months or nine months. And that's where the Democrats are going to go.
I believe there's going to be real momentum for the Democrats to come up with a timetable. And I don't believe the American people are there.
BRAZILE: Reverend Jackson --
BLITZER: All right, Donna, go ahead and wrap it up.
BRAZILE: Well, there's no question that the Democratic Party has a healthy left wing and a healthy moderate and centrist wing.
And the truth is, is that the party is unified, and the party is unified at taking the country in a totally new direction. And I don't believe we're going to have any problems. Ned Lamont will have -- not have any problems unifying the Democratic Party in Connecticut.
BLITZER: We shall see. Thank you very much.
Donna Brazile, Bay Buchanan, and, to our viewers, as you saw a few moments ago, as well, Bill Schneider, they are all part of the best political team on television. CNN, America's campaign headquarters.