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Friday, January 12, 2007

Dems Tie McCain To Bush 'Surge' Strategy

In a potential glimpse at the 2008 race for the White House, Democrats are tying U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to the unpopular escalation of the war in Iraq that President Bush unveiled this week.

McCain is looking at a second bid for president. McCain ran for the GOP nomination in 2000 but ultimately lost to Bush.

"Cementing himself as the establishment candidate committed to continuing the Bush legacy of failure in Iraq, John McCain yesterday wholeheartedly endorsed the president's escalation of the war. Although the president's new increase of troops for the civil war in Iraq falls shy of the 35,000 troops McCain had proposed, the Arizona senator said he was satisfied with the move, stating 'I think it meets our criteria,'" the Democratic National Committee says, citing a McCain interview on CNN.

"Spearheading the effort to escalate the Iraq War with tens ofthousands more American troops may cement John McCain in Bush's camp, but it won't help him become Bush's successor," says Democratic National Committee spokesman Luis Miranda. "The American people have made it clear they want a new direction in Iraq, not another troop increase that keeps our brave men and women in uniform bogged down in the Iraqi civil war."

Inability to articulate clear position has garnered McCain broad criticism, according to the Democratic National Committee.

Polls find Americans disapprove of sending more troops to Iraq.

"Harold Meyerson wrote in the Washington Post that McCain's continued hawkishness, even if held sincerely, was flawed, writing that 'integrity in the pursuit of fantasy is no virtue,'" the DNC says. "Joel Connelly, a columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, noted that, 'The heady spirit of a reformer on the road is gone,' and concluded that McCain 'is the last person in the world that you'd want to be in charge of cleaning up Bush's [foreign policy] excesses.' Ann McFeatters wrote that McCain has become 'garbled' in explaining his Iraq position. And pollster John Zogby noted that McCain's 'going to be all alone in suggesting the Iraq Study Group' was wrong.

McCain has criticized aspects of Bush's war handling, however, and called attention to mistakes in remarks in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Iraq.

"We have made many, many mistakes since 2003, and these will not be easily reversed," McCain said. "Even greater than the costs thus far and in the future, however, are the catastrophic consequences that would ensue from our failure in Iraq. By surging troops and bringing security to Baghdad and other areas, we will give the Iraqis and their partners the best possible chances to succeed.

"From everything I saw during my trip to Iraq last month, I believe that success is still possible," McCain added. "And I would not support this new strategy if I didn’t think it had a real chance of success. But let us realize that there are no guarantees. By controlling the violence, we can pave the way for a political settlement. Once the government wields greater authority, however, Iraqi leaders must take significant steps on their own, and they must do it right away."

McCain acknowledges that "[i]ncreasing U.S. troop levels will expose more brave Americans to danger and increase the number of American casualties."

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