Dino Rossi: Standing next to war vets in June, refusing to talk about war funding in July.
  • Dino Rossi: Standing next to war vets in June, refusing to talk about war funding in July.
It would seem like an easy question for a Republican Senate candidate to answer: Would you have voted for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and would you have voted to support their continued funding since 2001?

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But Dino Rossi, who wants voters to give him Democrat Patty Murray's Senate seat in November, won't answer the question.

It may seem hard to believe, but it's true.

Last week I sent Rossi spokesperson Jennifer Morris a list of 11 votes that Murray has taken since 2001 on the question of funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In all of those votes, Murray voted in favor of war funding. I asked Morris: "How would Dino Rossi have voted?"

Easy question. And it's not like Rossi's campaign hasn't answered the hypothetical vote question before. Last month, Rossi provided information on how he would have voted on six abortion-related measures the Senate took up between 2000 and 2006. Those answers were very illuminating, and also politically fraught given the issue involved. So why can't Rossi answer the comparatively simple question of whether he would have voted, like Murray, for funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

For a Republican, the peril of not having an answer to that question could actually be greater than having, say, too moderate an answer on abortion. And, worse, it begs the greater question: Does Dino Rossi not support funding the troops?

Beyond this question of war funding votes, Rossi also won't answer the basic question of whether he would have voted for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in the first place.

On Tuesday, I called Morris to ask that question and she told me to look at Rossi's web site for an answer. We hung up, and I did. It doesn't answer the question, saying only that Rossi wants to: "Ensure victory over the worldwide jihadist network of terrorists, including our missions in Afghanistan and Iraq."

So I e-mail Morris, telling her that the web site didn't answer my question, which, I told her again, is: "Would Rossi have voted to invade Iraq and Afghanistan if he was in the Senate at the time those votes took place?"

No response. This morning I called Morris to follow up. She asked me to re-send my e-mail. I've done that, though I also told her it's surprising that Rossi doesn't have a quick answer on the question of whether he would have voted in favor of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

I'm still waiting for an answer.

You might ask: Isn't Rossi on record somewhere, in a past statement or position paper, addressing these questions? Oddly, no.

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The only thing that seems to be out there is a 2003 vote Rossi took in the state legislature supporting the George W. Bush economic agenda. Now, I suppose you can extrapolate from that vote that Rossi supported the war funding measures that were part of Bush's economic agenda. But it's very strange to have to extrapolate like that on such a simple question in such a major race.

So, just in case anyone else gets a chance to put it to him, here, again, is my question for Dino Rossi, still unanswered: If you'd been a Senator in the years since 2001, would you have voted for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and would you have matched Murray's record in voting to support their continued funding?

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