Thursday, October 11, 2007

Iraq War Veteran Turned Iowa Congressman Endorses Biden

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware received the endorsement of Iowa State Representative McKinley Bailey, D-District 9, a returning Iraq war veteran. Bailey, 26, is the youngest serving Democratic member of the Iowa State Legislature Bailey appeared along with Iowa House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and explained why Iowans should support Biden for the Democratic nomination for President.

"After returning from serving in Iraq, I quickly grew frustrated by my impression that leaders in both political parties did not understand the fundamental challenges to ending the war in Iraq," Bailey said in a press release. "When I first learned of Senator Biden's plan, I realized that was the ticket - a political solution, not a military one. I am endorsing him because from day one, our next president must make decisions on the direction in Iraq and I am convinced Senator Biden has the knowledge and experience to bring our troops home without leaving a situation that requires another generation of Americans to return in a decade."

Biden noted in a press release, "McKinley is one of Iowa 's most promising political leaders and I am proud that he has pledged to support my campaign. I am in awe of all that he has already accomplished, including his exemplary work on behalf of his fellow veterans."

Bailey is a veteran of five years of service in the United States Army. Bailey was a paratrooper with the elite 82nd Airborne Division and led his Tactical Signals Intelligence Intercept Team on more than 100 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the University of Iowa, where he earned a BA in International Studies, McKinley founded and served as President of the University of Iowa Veterans Association.

Elaborating on his frustrations with the political parties, Bailey was quick to point his finger at the Republicans and their handling of the war.” They did not understand the situation at all,” Bailey told the Iowa Independent. “The strategies they were using when they sent us over was to treat the civilians like a hill that you to walk over to get to the enemy. That just doesn’t work. Iraqis are an extremely complex culture with lots of different religions, ethnic groups, and then beyond that you have tribes, clans and lots of divisions. If you want to win, you have to understand that.”

“I work in military intelligence and we sent reports stating that we were going about this all wrong, but we kept getting ignored over and over,” Bailey said during a telephone interview. “I think that the Bush administration still does somehow think that they will one day kill all the bad guys and that will be the end of it. It’s far more complex than that.”

Despite being a Democrat, Bailey was not willing to let his party’s leaders off the hook, so easily, in particular those members calling for a quick withdrawal. “Some Democrats are guilty of thinking we can just pack up and leave, and that’s just not feasible,” Bailey said. “There’s a lot of good people in Iraq who are on our side, and they and their families will be killed if we pack up and leave. They’ve trusted us and done everything we’ve asked of them, and we can’t abandon them.”

“We can’t stay there forever either. We have to have a rational and reasonable plan to get out of there without leaving Ira in a state of chaos, and that’s where I think Senator Biden steps in,” Bailey said. “When I first read Biden’s plan for Iraq over a year ago, I wasn’t thinking in terms of a presidential context, but I do remember thinking that somebody in D.C. finally gets what is going on.”

Asked what other reason, besides the war Iraq, as to why he’s endorsing Biden, Bailey responded that it’s too hard to separate the war from any of the other issues. “This is what really matters to me. I’ve been there, I’ve lost friends there, and ultimately the Iraq war was one of the guiding factors in my decision to endorse Senator Biden,” Bailey said.

Another important factor for Bailey’s endorsement decision was Biden’s vote to supplement the funding in Iraq, which included Biden’s MRAP (Minde Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles) amendment. “When you’re running in a Democratic primary, that certainly was not the most popular vote, politically, and as a legislator, I genuinely appreciated Biden’s courage to vote for what’s right and not what’s politically expedient,” Bailey said. “With Biden as president, I think we will see this courage applied in lots of other areas. I don’t want to sound like a one-issue voter, but I think most of Democratic candidates share fairly similar stances on the issues. It’s Biden’s experience, leadership, institutional knowledge and ability to get things done that separates him from the rest of the field.”

Elected in 2006, Bailey defeated three-time Republican incumbent George Eichorn by a 10-point margin and represents District 9, which covers all of Wright County and parts of Hamilton and Webster Counties. Bailey is the eleventh Iowa legislator to endorse Biden, including his leader, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines. "We are excited to have McKinley join the Biden team here in Iowa," McCarthy said in a press release. "His work with veterans as well as his own service to our country will prove invaluable to helping Joe Biden win the Iowa caucuses."

I'm with Joe: Rep. McKinley Bailey

Originally posted on "Iowa Independent"

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