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Referendum on Iraq withdrawal

April 06, 2007|Robert Salladay | Times Staff Writer

This report is adapted from Robert Salladay's blog, Political Muscle. To read more of the blog and other exclusive Times Web features, go to latimes.com/calpolitics.

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The California Senate leader, Don Perata, has introduced legislation that would force a statewide vote on withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

If approved, it would be the first time a referendum on ending the Iraq war has made a statewide ballot, although about 300 local governments have passed resolutions calling for the immediate or rapid withdrawal from Iraq. And communities in four states have backed local referenda on ending the war.

A California ballot measure would be advisory, since President Bush and Congress control foreign policy. The question before voters would be:

"Shall President George W. Bush, in support of the men and women serving in the Armed Forces of the United States, end the United States occupation of Iraq and immediately begin the safe and orderly withdrawal of all United States forces; and further, shall President George W. Bush and the Congress provide the necessary diplomatic and nonmilitary assistance to promote peace and stability in Iraq and the Middle East?"

The tally of the vote would be communicated to the president. Perata, a Democrat from Oakland, held a news conference Thursday in his district to announce the proposed ballot measure.

Placing the measure on the Feb. 5 presidential primary ballot would require a majority vote in the Legislature and a signature by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Democratic-controlled Assembly and Senate, where a nonbinding Iraq war resolution is already being considered, might easily approve such a measure.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said Thursday that the governor's staff hadn't read Perata's measure and wouldn't comment before analyzing it.

The Republican governor has said the U.S. should put a timetable on leaving Iraq. "We're going to draw our troops out of Iraq," the governor said on NBC's "Meet the Press" in February. "I think a timeline is absolutely important because I think that the people in America don't want to see another Korean War, another Vietnam War, where it's an open-ended thing."

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