Topeka The issue that divides the country - war in Iraq - also divides the candidates for Congress in the 2nd District, which includes west Lawrence.
Five-term incumbent Jim Ryun, a Republican from Lawrence, stands by President Bush's policies, while Democrat Nancy Boyda of Topeka has been critical of the war.
Ryun reiterated his position Thursday when Vice President Dick Cheney stopped in Topeka to help Ryun raise $209,000 for his campaign.
Cheney warned that if Democrats win control of either the House or Senate in the Nov. 7 election, it could derail Bush's plans in Iraq and in dealing with terrorism in general.
Afterward, Ryun said of the war in Iraq, "Progress is slow, but it is being made. I'm optimistic that we will eventually see that war won."
He said the recent increase in violence in Iraq was expected because insurgents are threatened by U.S. progress in the area.
He then criticized Boyda, saying that while he supports the troops, "My opponent actually protested during the time that they were in the conflict, involved in the war on terrorism."
In 2003, Boyda participated and helped coordinate anti-war protests because she said she had questions about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and whether Bush had done enough to get more allies into the invading coalition. Once Bush committed troops to the invasion, she said she stopped the anti-war protests.
Boyda said she gets ticked off when Ryun implies she doesn't support the troops.
More about the election
- Stances on war in Iraq separate candidates
- Cheney raises $200,000 for Ryun's race (10-13-06)
- Boyda poll shows dead heat with Ryun (10-11-06)
- Talk about the race for Congress with Democrat Nancy Boyda (10-11-06)
- Candidate: Jim Ryun
- Candidate: Nancy Boyda
- Candidate selector: See whose positions you agree with
- More about the U.S. House, 2nd District race
One of the best ways to show support of the troops is to put together a workable exit strategy, she said.
"If this administration is unable to develop an exit strategy, then Congress must step up to the task," Boyda said.
She said the debate between "cut and run" and "stay the course" is useless.
"People are sick and tired of these slogans," she said.
She said she is hopeful that a bipartisan Iraqi study group led by former Secretary of State James Baker III can rise above the political fight and make recommendations on the war.
Of the study group, Ryun said, "I think it's important to wait to see what they have."
Joe Aistrup, head of the political science department at Kansas State University, said the war would be an important factor with voters.
If voters equate support of the war with support of the troops, they will probably lean toward Ryun, he said.
But, he said, if people question the linkage between support of the war and support of the troops, the advantage goes to Boyda.
"That linkage is beginning to fray" in congressional elections around the country, he said.
"People are saying we support the troops, but maybe it's time to bring them home because we may have put them in an unwinnable situation. In some districts, voters are making that calculation," he said.
Whether that is the case in the 2nd District remains to be seen, he said.