Phil Angelides, the would-be Democratic governor, visited San Francisco on Tuesday and reiterated his goal of bringing California National Guard troops home from Iraq if elected.
Roughly 250 students at San Francisco State University packed into a campus auditorium to hear anti-war messages from the 53-year old state treasurer, along with Mayor Gavin Newsom and Assemblyman Mark Leno. A few bars from the 1969 hit protest song “War” kicked off the afternoon event.
The speech by the man who aims to unseat the popular Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger was punctuated by applause from students who erupted into shouts of “Go, Phil, go,” as the speech came to a close.
“George Bush and Dick Cheney led us into the war on a false pretext. There were no weapons of mass destruction and no evidence of Saddam Hussein’s support for al-Qaida or the terrible 9/11 attacks,” Angelides said. “Since 9/11, 9,000 members of our California Guard have been deployed overseas, mostly in Iraq.”
A governor does not have the power to unilaterally order National Guard troops home during an international deployment. If elected Nov. 7, Angelides pledged to formally request that President Bush return the National Guard troops.
Acknowledging that the governor lacks the authority to order the troops home, the state treasurer said he would “walk the halls of Congress” to sway opinion his way and may even take legal action to bring the soldiers home.
Gov. Schwarzenegger’s campaign characterized Angelides’ words as desperate acts during the final weeks leading up to the election.
“Forty-two days from the election, while attending his first-ever anti-Iraq war rally, Phil Angelides is spewing political rhetoric calling for action he knows is both illegal and unconstitutional, in another shameless effort to try to get traction in the polls,” said Katie Levinson, communications director for Californians for Schwarzenegger ’06.
Angelides, when asked if he’s protested any war since Vietnam, said he campaigned in an effort to defeat President Bush in 2004, but did not offer examples of anti-war protests in which he’s participated.
Angelides’ message was welcomed by students, including some who recommended he take his anti-war efforts a step further.
“I hope he takes a stronger stance,” said senior Lacy MacAuley, 27, who is majoring in international relations. “He should be pulling [California’s] money out of the war effort. The National Guard is a good step.”