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Democratic Senate candidates Ferre and Meek at odds over Afghanistan

Seeking a foothold in the U.S. Senate race, long-shot Democratic contender Maurice Ferre on Tuesday sided with his party's most liberal wing and said he opposes President Barack Obama's decision to send more troops to Afghanistan.

Ferre's main rival, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami, was among a minority of Democratic members of Congress who publicly praised the president's plan last week. Meek said in a statement that the troop surge "puts us on a course for success that we lacked for many years."

But Ferre said the military escalation will drive terrorists into other countries and that the costs will detract from domestic priorities like health care reform.

"It is my judgment this plan for escalation and withdrawal is not worth one more drop of American blood or $1 of taxpayers' money because it is doomed to failure based on history and experience," said Ferre, the former mayor of Miami, in a written statement.

He added, "Kendrick Meek is sadly putting party before sound judgment based on history."

Ferre's statement reflects a strategy to run to Meek's political left at a time when the ex-mayor is struggling to raise enough money to remain a viable statewide candidate.

A board member on the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, Ferre said Tuesday that he was dropping his pledge not to accept campaign donations from people who do business with the panel overseeing South Florida's major expressways.

"I have to raise money. I have to be practical," Ferre said. "Either that or I will have to walk away from this campaign."

It's routine for elected officials to raise money from businesses seeking public contracts. Still, Ferre said earlier that he would hold himself to a higher standard by declining to vote on any project pushed by a campaign donor.

Democratic Senate candidates Ferre and Meek at odds over Afghanistan 12/08/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 8, 2009 8:53pm]
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