Iraq visits popular with U.S. senators

Aug. 1, 2007 at 9:33 AM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Making visits to troops in Iraq is popular among U.S. senators, as at least 76 of them have done so in the last year, The Hill reported Wednesday.

The Washington newspaper's survey found 18 senators have never made the trip, with one of them, Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., calling the junkets political "dog and pony shows."

The leader of the traveling pack is Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., who has visited Iraq 10 times, including three trips in the past year. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., an ardent supporter of the war effort, has made eight trips to Iraq.

Eight other senators have made at least six trips since the war began in March 2003.

Two Republican senators who have called for the Bush administration to change its tactics have never been -- Sens. George Voinovich of Ohio and Pete Domenici of New Mexico, The Hill said.

James Thurber, professor of political science and director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University, told the newspaper the visits make sense politically.

"The more trips you go give you more authority," Thurber said.

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