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On the December 29 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN chief White House correspondent Ed Henry and White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux asked whether former senator and presidential candidate John Edwards (D-NC) "want[s] to give up" on the Iraq war, referring to Edwards' call to withdraw significant numbers of U.S. troops from Iraq. Neither Henry nor Malveaux explained how withdrawing 40,000 troops from Iraq, as Edwards has called for, constitutes "giving up" on Iraq. Edwards said, as he has previously, that shifting more responsibility to the Iraqi government is the best way to achieve long-term stability in that country.
On the December 29 edition of The Situation Room, Malveaux teased her and Henry's interview with Edwards, saying: "Also this hour, tough questions for a presidential candidate. Is Democrat John Edwards ready to give up on Iraq? We'll talk at length with the former senator about his change of heart on the war and his White House prospects." During the actual interview, Henry asked Edwards: "You want to give up?":
MALVEAUX: Also this hour, tough questions for a presidential candidate. Is Democrat John Edwards ready to give up on Iraq? We'll talk at length with the former senator about his change of heart on the war and his White House prospects.
EDWARDS: Here's what I believe: I believe that an escalation of our presence in Iraq is an enormous mistake. I think this [Sen. John] McCain [R-AZ] doctrine doesn't make any sense. There is no military solution to what's happening in Iraq. Everyone knows that. The only solution -- potential solution -- is a political solution. I mean, the Iraqis are going to have to decide whether they're actually going to have a representative government that includes everybody, including the Sunnis. And that's the only way to ultimately tamp down this violence.
If the idea is that we put more troops there and we stay there over an extended period of time for years, and somehow that's going to solve this underlying political problem, it's just not reality.
HENRY: But, Senator, I wanted to ask about you, not about Senator McCain.
You want to pull 40 to 50,000 U.S. troops out of Iraq. Do you just want to give up?
HENRY: You want to give up?
EDWARDS: No. I think it's -- no, sir. I think we have two choices. And it's basically one -- they're bad and worse. We're in a very difficult situation. Nobody can say -- certainly with not any honesty -- that they -- the path that they're proposing will be successful in Iraq. We're in a very difficult situation.
Here's what I believe: I believe that the smartest and best thing for America to do is to make it clear that we're not going to stay in Iraq forever, that we're going to leave. I think that's the way to shift the responsibility to the Iraqis, to have the kind of political solution that they need. And I think the best way to signal that we're going to leave is to actually start leaving.
And there are a large number of provinces in Iraq that are, in fact, secure -- obviously not Baghdad, not the Sunni Triangle -- but there are places from which we could remove troops.