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Angie Drobnic Holan
By Angie Drobnic Holan October 17, 2007

Richardson defaults to 'fast as possible'

At the Democratic CNN/YouTube debate on July 23, 2007, Bill Richardson said he wanted all troops out in six months: "This is what I stand for: I believe we should bring all the troops home by the end of this year, in six months, with no residual forces -- no residual forces."

Sen. Joe Biden immediately challenged him on the feasibility of the timetable, saying "Number one, there is not a single military man in this audience who will tell this senator he can get those troops out in six months if the order goes today." Sen. Hillary Clinton also said she doubted the six months number.

Experts disagree on how quickly withdrawal could occur. But some believe a speedy withdrawal could take place in less than a year if non-essential equipment was left behind.

As time has gone by, though, Richardson has gradually dropped the phrase "six months" from his arguments for a hasty withdrawal. In a subsequent debate on Aug. 19, Richardson said withdrawal could be completed in six to eight months. At a Sept. 26 debate, moderator Tim Russert asked Richardson if it was possible to withdraw troops in less than a year; Richardson said it was, but he didn't claim the six-month time frame.

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So Biden is on solid ground saying that Richardson's six-month figure seems to be a thing of the past. But he falls short when he says Richardson accepts a year-long time frame.

In a Richardson campaign video, a narrator says Richardson's time frame to withdraw troops is "as quickly as they can safely exit the country." His web site -- – emphasizes withdrawal in a matter of months, citing several past examples of large troop movements that have occurred in "as little as three months" or "in just a few months."

It may be strategically smart of Richardson to drop the controversial six-months number that distracts from his main argument of a fast withdrawal. But we can't find any examples of Richardson "acknowledging" a year-long withdrawl time-frame either. We rate Biden's charge half-true.

Our Sources

Bill Richardson campaign website, Richardson: No way forward in Iraq unless all troops are withdrawn, Oct. 12, 2007.

Joe Biden campaign web site, Statement on Richardson's "Irresponsible" Position on Iraq, Oct. 12, 2007.

Richardson campaign website,

Boston Globe, How to Withdraw Safely and Quickly, by Lawrence J. Korb and Max A. Bergmann, Sept. 9, 2007.

CNN, CNN/YouTube Debate Transcript, July 23, 2007.

ABC News, Democratic Debate Transcript, Aug. 19, 2007.

MSNBC , Democratic Debate Transcript, Sept. 26, 2007.

Bill Richardson campaign, The Choice on Iraq YouTube video , Sept. 25, 2007.

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