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June 3, 2006

Cantwell's Opponents Speak to Demos

Posted by David Postman at 3:37 PM

The anti-war candidates running against Maria Cantwell — Mark Wilson and Hong Tran — each got a few minutes to address the Democratic convention this afternoon. And they presented a clear distinction from Cantwell on the war and other issues. And from Wilson at least, delegates saw a far different Democrat than any other party official or candidate who has spoken.

Wilson is a Marine veteran who has run for office as a Green and a Libertarian. While he was hard on Cantwell, it was nothing compared to his indictment of the Bush Administration. He called them "terrorists in the White House" and "incompetent chicken hawks who wage immoral war against the innocent at home and abroad."

Wilson said he supports repeal of the Patriot Act and said "We must get to the complete truth about September the 11th. The commission's distortions and omissions are not worth the paper it's written on." This all brought cheers from a small chunk of the crowd.

Wilson said he believes in "ordinary citizens united with a commitment to positive change." But not in dealing with the Administration. He said he would be a "forceful, combative obstructionist to the Bush-Cheney, neo-con agenda."

"Let's make the final days of the Bush-Cheney nightmare a living hell for the dangerous duo," he said.

Attacking Cantwell on her stance on the environment, which she generally gets high marks for, Wilson said, "You can't be a true environmentalist when you support the pillage and plunder of war or neo-con, fast-tracking, free-trading policies."

Tran, an attorney who has left her job giving legal advise to low-income familes to campaign full-time, said she knows that some Democrats are willing to overlook Cantwell's war stance because of the environmental record. "The truth is however we can't count on her to protect our environment any more than we can count on her to uphold our key Democratic values."

That was the one line that brought boos from Democrats in either speech.

Tran criticized Cantwell's vote to confirm Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, saying Kempthorne opposes some of the environmental issues that Cantwell has pushed for. "Either Cantwell doesn't understand that or she's not the environmentalist we hope she is," Tran said.

After Wilson and Tran spoke, veteran Pierce County activist Harvey Brooks took to the microphone to try to calm the divisions. Brooks is a Vietnam war veteran with what he called Agent Orange cancer and said he was struck by watching Tran, a refugee from that war, touting a run for the U.S. Senate. "Now although we may make mistakes, which we have, we had some today, we are still and will forever be the ones who include others in our tent," he said to the biggest applause of the afternoon.

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