Reuters news alert:Trailing badly, Schroeder plays Iraq card again
Facing an uphill battle for re-election, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has turned once again to the issue that vaulted him to a dramatic victory in 2002 -- Iraq.
Iraq no longer has the resonance with voters that it did three years ago, when Washington was gearing up for a war that three in four Germans opposed.
And Schroeder, who trails Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) by 15-19 points in opinion polls before a planned September election, is more vulnerable than he was then.
But with violence in Iraq prominent in the German media and terror attacks in London this month raising fears that backers of the U.S.-led invasion have become targets, Schroeder appears to have sensed an opportunity.
His party's election programme highlights the Chancellor's staunch opposition to the war and warns voters that German troops would now be in Iraq if it had been up to Merkel.
Since the manifesto was unveiled at the beginning of the month, Schroeder has sent the message to voters that a vote for Merkel is a vote for the Iraq war. [...]