Democrats Use Rice Nomination to Measure Iraq; Boxer Takes Opportunity to Raise Funds for Campaign Committee

Article excerpt

Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Condoleezza Rice is all but assured of Senate confirmation as secretary of state today, but Democrats used yesterday's debate over her nomination to make her a surrogate for President Bush's Iraq policy, and even began using her as a target in a new fund-raising campaign.

The Senate's two longest-serving Democrats, Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, led a group of party members announcing that they will oppose her nomination as a way of rejecting Mr. Bush's prosecution of the war on terror.

"Dr. Rice was a key member of the national security team that developed and justified the rationale for war, and it's been a catastrophic failure, a continuing quagmire," Mr. Kennedy said. "In these circumstances, she should not be promoted to secretary of state."

In addition to the debate on the floor of the Senate, Sen. Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who was the most pointed interrogator of Miss Rice at her hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, wrote a fund-raising e-mail about Miss Rice for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

"I will continue to make my voice heard on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, but in order to put the brakes on four more years of misdirection in Iraq and reckless policies at home, we need to elect more Democrats to the Senate during the 2006 midterm elections," Mrs. Boxer said in her plea for money.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said Miss Rice deserves an apology for the letter, which he said "does offend the American people." Republicans said the letter exposed Democrats' arguments as pure politics.

"It cheapens her arguments on the floor," said Bob Stevenson, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican. "It suggests that her opposition to the nomination is motivated by partisan politics rather than reason. This should be about who is going to serve our nation as secretary of state, not red state, blue state."

Mrs. Boxer's letter was a surprise to some of her fellow Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who said he didn't know about it.

"I'd have to see the letter to see how it's used," he told reporters yesterday afternoon.

Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Byrd were joined by about a half-dozen other Democrats who spoke against Miss Rice.

"She misled me about the situation in Iraq," Sen. …