CNN Features Iraqi Troops Who Favor Democrats in Election

March 14th, 2008 7:11 PM

CNN’s Kyra Phillips, currently in Iraq on assignment, apparently couldn’t any Iraqi troops who support the Republicans for the November election in the U.S. All of those featured in her report on Friday’s "Newsroom" program said glowing things about Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or the Democrats in general. Ahmed Mansour, one of the soldiers from Iraq’s Sixth Division that Philips interviewed, expressed his preference for Hillary Clinton. "The truth is I pay attention to Democratic Party -- even more, Hillary Clinton." When asked why he liked Hillary, he said, "Because I like her personality, because she's new. In America, you need something new, a new female president. We saw and lived under the Republican Party, under Bush. We would like to see what the Democrats have to offer."

Phillips asked three other Iraqi soldiers about their take on the upcoming American election. Ali Saleh voiced his support for the Democrats in general. "Democrat is better than Republican. We are living under the Republicans. We know the situation. It's difficult under the Republicans." Ali Mohammed, when asked which candidate he was "paying attention to," his one word answer was "Clinton." As a follow-up, Phillips asked Mohammed that if he "had a chance to sit down with Hillary Clinton, what would you tell her you need in Iraq?" Mohammed’s answer: "I would ask her to help compose a book about democracy and send it to Iraqi politicians. It would help."

The final soldier featured by Phillips, Alaa Ahmed, said Obama is his favorite candidate. He further explained that Obama is "practical and loves to serve his country." Phillips then asked the "sit down" question to Ahmed concerning Obama. Ahmed’s response: "I would ask him to pay attention to the Middle East and the Iranian and American conflict that's happening on Iraqi land. That is affecting Iraq and needs to be addressed." Phillips then said to Ahmed, "There's been lots of talk about how Iran is affecting this war, funneling terrorists, weapons." Ahmed agreed. "Of course, we believe that. We have proof that the Iranians help the terrorists by giving them money, weapons, and many other things."

Phillips’ report, which first aired in the 9 am Eastern hour of the CNN program, and was replayed twice later in the afternoon , didn’t focus exclusively on the upcoming American elections. Phillips asked two other Iraqi soldiers questions, one about what he learned from American troops, and the other about how a "real democracy" would make his life better.

After the report was replayed about 20 minutes in the 3 pm Eastern hour, Phillips clarified that she has asked the Iraqi soldiers about the Republicans as well.

PHILLIPS: Now, just to be clear, I did ask each one of these soldiers, are you following any Republican candidates? Do you want to talk about John McCain? Do you -- would you want to see a Republican in office in the next -- in the upcoming election? And all of them said: No. We're living in a Republican war. We want to see change, and that means a Democrat.

And another interesting thing, too, a lot of them talked about Hillary Clinton and my producer, Isabel -- she's a female, she's Arab. She said, from a cultural standpoint, for her, it was very fascinating to see these Arab men talk so much about a female becoming president in the U.S.

"Newsroom" anchor responded to Phillips' closing remarks by echoing one of the major "themes" of the Democratic presidential campaign. "Ah, very interesting stuff. So, they would like to see a change, like a lot of people here in America are saying the same thing."

Earlier, after the report's original 9 am Eastern hour airing, Phillips, in a discussion with "Newsroom" anchor Tony Harris, went into a bit more detail about the Iraqi military's apparent support of the Democrats.

KYRA PHILLIPS: And, Tony, just to be clear, I did ask each one of these soldiers, are you following the Republicans? Is there a Republican candidate that you're interested in? Are you paying attention to John McCain? Within this group, at least within this group, nobody was for a Republican, and they were all paying attention to the Democrats. So it's pretty interesting.

TONY HARRIS: Yes. You think there might be a little bit of affinity there to John McCain, sort of soldier-to-soldier. But let me ask you, Kyra, did any of these soldiers tell you any personal stories about arresting terrorists?

PHILLIPS: Sure. And you know what, Tony, you actually made me think of something on the higher level. Some of the generals, who are working very close with U.S. troops that are on a higher level, they were very pro-Republican. Hey, the Republican Party, you know, they gave us this training. They helped, you know, create freedom for us. They were much more pro-Republican. So I probably should add that.

Just at least with these guys, these guys that are on the streets, okay, this is what they're telling me. And they're arresting the terrorists. They are the ones out there dealing with these terrorists. And I asked them about personal stories. The biggest frustration, Tony, is that they will arrest them, and there's no solid court system, judicial system. So they arrest them, they put them away, and a lot of them, they say, are let go. And so, that's very frustrating for them. They want the government to get a judicial system up and going so, these guys are arrested, put away, or put to death.