U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas: Iraq War Vote A Mistake
Lucas: War vote a mistake
'I really feel like I was misled'
By Feoshia Henderson
Post staff reporter
Publication Date: 09-11-2004
A visibly emotional U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas, who two years ago described a potential invasion of Iraq as being in the "interest of America and all freedom-loving people everywhere," Friday told a Northern Kentucky audience that his vote to authorize that war was the one he most regretted during his three terms in Congress.
"I supported my commander-in-chief as president because there were supposed to be weapons of mass destruction," the Richwood Democrat, who is not seeking re-election, told about 80 politicians and businessmen at Covington's Metropolitan Club.
"But I have to tell you from all the stuff that we've gotten I really feel like I was misled," Lucas said, responding to a question during the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce's monthly Government Forum.
"I think people had good intentions but I feel very badly about that. Particularly with -- 1,000 young men and women who have died, and thousands who have lost body parts. I don't feel good about that," he said, trailing off as his audience listened silently.
For Lucas, a conservative Democrat who has supported many of President Bush's key policies, Friday's remarks were a stark departure from his stance in the fall of 2002, during the build-up to America's March 2003 invasion.
In September 2002, a month before voting to give Bush authority to use military force against Iraq, Lucas said he found the president's speech that month to the United Nations outlining the case for international action to topple Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein persuasive. A regime change in Iraq, "by military means if necessary -- is in the vital national interest of America and all freedom-loving people everywhere," Lucas said at the time.
The following month, after siding with the rest of the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati congressional delegation in supporting the war resolution, Lucas -- a former Air Force pilot who also served in the Air National Guard -- stressed that the United States could not wait for Saddam or one of his allies to perhaps strike first.
"We cannot let another horrific event like Sept. 11 happen again while we stand idly by," Lucas said in October 2002.
Two years later -- and more significantly, 1,000 American lives and $200 billion later -- Lucas admitted Friday that he now assesses the situation far differently.
The war, Lucas told Friday's luncheon, has done more harm than good and undermined domestic priorities.
"I don't think we're better off than we were. I think we've incited a lot of people," he said. "We've spent about $200 billion in Iraq and when you think of what we could have done with that here in this country, hardening our defenses, giving our front-line defenders what they need, going after al Qaida. With $200 billion you could do a lot."
Some in Friday's audience, like Paul Hemmer Companies executive Kathy Groob, were touched by Lucas's comments.
"When Ken spoke today, he told us the way he sees things with the benefit of hindsight," said Groob, a Fort Mitchell Council member and candidate for state Senate.
"When he spoke about the war, he gave us his honest opinion and showed his obvious regret for the vote he made. His emotional account of that vote is obviously one that haunts him and he brought the human side of war in the room with him today."
Lucas, who was elected to Congress in 1998, is a former Florence City Council member, Boone County commissioner and Boone County judge-executive. Democrat Nick Clooney, from Augusta, and Republican Geoff Davis, of Hebron, are running for Lucas's 4th Congressional District seat.
In addition to the war, Lucas, a member of the conservative "Blue Dog Coalition" in Congress, also lamented the latest Congressional Budget Office figures showing that the federal deficit will
reach a record $422 billion this year.
"The people who are going to be paying this debt, which we call a 'debt tax' are going to be our kids and grandkids," Lucas said.
Lucas also criticized the way business occurs in Washington, saying partisan politics is poisoning the political process. "It really sickens me that it's been that way, and I'd like to say its getting better, but I think it's getting worse," he said. Even so, Lucas added: "We have the best system in the world, but it could be better."
address: The Cincinnati Post
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