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N.M. Dems Call For Bush's Exit

By Jeff Jones
Copyright 2006 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Politics Writer
    The New Mexico Democratic Party is calling for President Bush's removal from office— a position some party leaders are already distancing themselves from.
    The resolution says "the Democratic Party of New Mexico supports the impeachment of George Bush and his lawful removal from office." It was adopted as a floor amendment to the state party platform at a convention Saturday in Albuquerque.
    The state Democratic Party chairman, John Wertheim, said Saturday's vote at a gathering of more than 1,200 party delegates shows that many Democrats believe the Bush administration is "fraught with abuses of power and violations of the Constitution."
    State Republican chairman Allen Weh on Monday chalked up the vote in part to "mob psychology" at the Democratic Party's pre-primary convention at Highland High School.
    "The mob psychology starts to take place, and moderate people get intimidated into going along," Weh said. "I submit to you there are lots of patriotic Democrats— and that this frenzied mob of left-wing radicals doesn't represent the mainstream Democrats in the heartland."
    Wertheim said he believes at least two other state Democratic parties have adopted similar resolutions.
    New Mexico Democratic party executive director Matt Farrauto said he thinks the New Mexico party's vote is "consistent with the national mood" concerning Bush.
    Meanwhile, two prominent New Mexico Democrats— Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who is seeking re-election this year, and Attorney General Patricia Madrid, who is challenging Republican Rep. Heather Wilson for the 1st Congressional District seat— steered clear of the state party action.
    Madrid, who attended the convention, said through a spokeswoman Monday that she was out of the room when the Bush impeachment vote came up and did not cast a vote herself.
    "I believe this is premature," Madrid said of the Bush resolution. "I hope I get the chance to go to Congress to participate in a full investigation of the underlying issues."
    Bingaman did not attend the pre-primary convention because he was traveling in the Middle East.
    Bingaman's spokeswoman, Jude McCartin, said Monday that Bingaman supports a "9/11-commission-style" inquiry into warrantless domestic wiretapping by the administration. But McCartin said she's unaware of anyone in Washington— Bingaman included— who is talking about a possible impeachment.
    Delegates from both state parties met at separate locations in Albuquerque on Saturday to endorse candidates for June 6 primary elections and vote on party platforms.
    A platform vote on impeaching Bush was not included in the Democratic Party's written list of topics for consideration. Wertheim said party delegate Robb Chavez of Bernalillo County called from the floor for the Bush resolution as the convention unfolded Saturday.
    Wertheim said the resolution passed with a vote of more than two-thirds of the delegates.
    "It was probably 80/20," Wertheim said of the vote in favor of the resolution. "There was not a single person to speak in opposition."
    Wertheim criticized Bush for the recent revelations of domestic wiretapping done without a warrant by the National Security Agency— a program the president authorized.
    He faulted Bush for what he called misstatements the president made about the threat posed by Iraq. And he pointed to the recent indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide in a case involving the outing of a CIA agent's name— though neither Bush nor Cheney has been implicated in the case.
    Realistically, "impeachment is not going to happen while we have a Republican Congress," Wertheim said. But he said the resolution shows "there's widespread sentiment among Democrats that the Bush administration has been fraught with abuse of power— and a greater degree of violations than anything the Clinton administration did."
    Weh characterized Wertheim's criticism of the Bush domestic wiretapping program as "bullcrap" and said the program is a necessity considering the current threats to the country.
    "If we had a Democratic president in office, he'd be doing the same doggone thing— John Wertheim knows it, and I know it," Weh said.