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Pelosi Backs Withdrawal From Iraq

November 30, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) _ House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday endorsed a call by a prominent member of her rank-and-file to immediately begin the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

``We should follow the lead of Congressman John Murtha, who has put forth a plan to make American safer, to make our military stronger and to make Iraq more stable,″ Pelosi said. ``That is what the American people and our troops deserve.″

Pelosi said she wouldn’t be calling for a party caucus position on the plan by the Pennsylvania Democrat because ``a vote on the war is an individual vote.″

Nevertheless, she said: ``I believe that a majority of our caucus clearly supports Mr. Murtha.″

Two weeks ago, Murtha called for U.S. troops to begin returning home and said a complete pullout could be achieved in six months. He introduced a resolution in the House that would force the president to withdraw the nearly 160,000 troops in Iraq ``at the earliest practicable date.″

Murtha, a Vietnam combat veteran and former Marine, voted in 2002 to give the president the authority to go to war. He has been a strong supporter of the military and an influential voice on military matters during his three-decade House career _ and his position switch set off a firestorm on Capitol Hill.

At the time, Pelosi emphasized that Murtha spoke only for himself, and not for her or the Democratic caucus.

She changed course after President Bush gave a speech on Iraq on Wednesday.

``I’m endorsing what Mr. Murtha is saying, which is that the status quo is not working and that we need to have a plan that makes us safer and our military stronger and makes Iraq more stable,″ she said. ``I believe that what he has said has great wisdom.″

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