WASHINGTON – Key Senate Democrats led by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle met Wednesday in one of several recent closed-door meetings to develop their position on Iraq and its president, Saddam Hussein.
They emerged without an official statement, but earlier in the day Daschle offered a clue into their discussions: Universal support to oust Saddam from power exists within the Democratic caucus.
"The question is when and how and under what circumstances," Daschle said.
The move comes one day after potential Democratic presidential candidate and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt gave what was billed as a major foreign policy address in which he said that, if diplomacy fails, he would back the Bush administration if it chose to topple the Iraqi despot.
The backing is a marked turnaround for Gephardt, who voted against the use of force prior to the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., who was a key player in the Wednesday powwow, said he agrees with Gephardt that it is time for a regime change, but asked, "Then what?"
"I don't know a single informed person who suggests that you can take down Saddam and not be prepared to stay for two, four, five years to give the country a chance to be held together," he said.
Sources told Fox News that Democratic members of Congress have recently contacted Iraqi opposition groups to develop a plan for democracy in Iraq after Saddam is gone. But military analysts say those who want a perfect post-Saddam plan are missing the point.
"The number one priority is to really get rid of Saddam, a regime change, get a democratic government in there, and free the Iraqi people," said retired Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney, a Fox News contributor.
That plan is currently what the United States is undertaking in Afghanistan. It ousted the Taliban government and has provided assistance to the country in trying to develop a democratic government.
While the military regularly calls up reservists for regular rotation in Kuwait and more are scheduled to report this fall, Bush administration officials insist there are no plans on the president's desk to take any kind of military action against Saddam.