The Republican National Committee is correct that Sen. Barack Obama of Illinios, a top contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, skipped a vote Thursday, Sept. 20, 2007, on a resolution meant to condemn the anti-war group MoveOn.org for an advertisement bashing Army Gen. David Petraues, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq.
The RNC release also correctly notes that Obama canceled a town hall meeting in Rock Hill, S.C., to stay in Washington for "important votes on the future of America's presence in Iraq."
It's not uncommon for members of Congress to miss votes because meetings can overlap with floor votes. But in this case, floor action on Iraq dominated the schedule, and Obama participated in the two Senate votes before and after the vote on the MoveOn resolution:
At 11:58 a.m., the Senate voted on an alternative resolution calling for support for the U.S. military. Obama voted yea. It passed.
At 12:35 p.m., the Senate voted on the MoveOn resolution. Obama did not vote. It passed.
At 2:54 p.m., the Senate voted on an amendment to a defense bill that sought to end most funding for the war in Iraq by June. Obama voted yea. It failed.
In a statement, Obama said he didn't vote on the resolution because it was a "stunt."
President Bush and his Republican allies in Congress have been fighting Democratic attempts to end the war in Iraq. They have seized on the MoveOn ad, published last week in the New York Times, in hopes of turning public sentiment against anti-war groups, and by extension their Democratic allies. The full-page ad said "Gen. Petraeus or Gen. Betray Us?" and questioned whether the general's report to Congress on progress in Iraq would be influenced by the White House.
MoveOn has leveraged its 3-million members to help drive opposition to the war, and in the process the group has become a powerful Democratic ally and fund-raiser.
Among other presidential hopefuls, Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Chris Dodd, D-Conn., voted against the MoveOn resolution, while Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sam Brownback, R-Kan., voted for it. Another contender, Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., also missed the vote, but he was absent from all votes Thursday.
The resolution was offered by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and it passed 72 to 25. Here's the text: "To express the sense of the Senate that General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, deserves the full support of the Senate and strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all members of the United States Armed Forces."
An alternative, offered by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., also passed, 50 to 47. All the Republicans opposed it, while all Democrats, including Obama, voted for it. Here's the text: "To reaffirm strong support for all the men and women of the United States Armed Forces and to strongly condemn attacks on the honor, integrity, and patriotism of any individual who is serving or has served honorably in the United States Armed Forces, by any person or organization."