Hilleary not optimistic about Iraqi compliance

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   Republican gubernatorial nominee Van Hilleary believes Iraq could relent to United States and United Nation pressure to lay down any weapons of mass destruction -- but he isn't optimistic about that scenario.
   "I think it is possible, but not likely," said Hilleary who spoke at a Republican rally held Saturday at Slagle's Pasture in Carter County, "There is a very small handful of nations with weapons of mass destruction, but there is only one country with the capability and willingness to do it."
   The 4th District U.S. Congressman voted yes to the House resolution giving President Bush the authority to go to war with Iraq. Every state House of Representatives members voted yes to the resolution except Rep. John J. Duncan Jr.
   Both U.S. Senators Bill Frist and Fred Thompson voted for the resolution, which passed 77-23 in the Senate.
   The resolution won House approval in a 296-133 vote. The Senate passed it 77-23.
   "A president's number one responsibility is to insure the safety and security of U.S. citizens," said Hilleary, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
   Hilleary served two volunteer tours of duty during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. While in the Persian Gulf, Hilleary flew 24 missions as a navigator on C-130 aircraft.
   "We wanted to go to Baghdad and do it then," said Hilleary of the Gulf War to remove Hussein from power.
   Saturday culminated a heavy week of campaigning for Hilleary who is seeking to win the state house against ex-Nashville mayor and Democratic nominee Phil Bredesen.
   President Bush stumped for Hilleary in Knoxville on Sunday at a Republican fundraiser that raised over $1 million, with $813,000 for the Hilleary campaign, according to the Hilleary campaign.
   Hilleary said the president had not forgotten the role East Tennessee Republicans played in his winning the White House in 2000.
   "He realizes East Tennessee made him president of the United States," said Hilleary referring to Bush's victory in Al Gore's home state in the 2000 presidential race. Northeast Tennessee turned about en masse to pile up votes for Bush.
   Hilleary visited Carter County as part of his "Round-the-Clock" campaign tour, which began Friday morning and included visits to Washington, Sullivan, Johnson, Greene, Jefferson and Hamblen counties.
   At Saturday's rally, Hilleary also said the state had spent recent years bickering over tax structure and the income tax instead of improving education or building private investment.
   The Congressman noted his provision written into the president's "No Child Left Behind Act" that allows rural school districts to supplement teacher pay from $200 million in federal funds nationwide.
   "When taxes go up, freedoms go down," Hilleary told the crowd. "We should've spent that energy trying to improve the way we educate children."