THE BLOG

2008 Presidential Possibilities React to Bush's Speech on Iraq

01/11/2007 02:33 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

President George W. Bush laid out his plans for sending more than 20, 000 more American troops to Iraq with the goal of providing security in Baghdad in a nationally televised speech last night from the White House.

How the United States will achieve victory by having our soldiers act as policemen and women in Iraq's capital city was not clearly spelled out. What have we been doing for the past four years that we do not have security in Baghdad? Why will 20,000 troops do the job? What is the ultimate goal for the United States in Iraq?

What will these new troops be expected to do and what will happen to security when they leave?

What will constitute victory in Iraq for America? How many more years will it take for this victory? Haven't we done way more than enough? This should not be an open-ended commitment. Even though he conceded errors have been made the president does not seem to be actually changing his policies in Iraq.

What did his comments on Iran and Syria mean? Does he realize that the American voter cast their ballots for change and this does not seem to be the change they voted for in November?

It did not seem to me to be one of the president's better speeches. He seemed tentative and not as sure of himself as he usually is - when he spoke here at Johns Hopkins last year he sounded much more confident.

We have assembled the views of most of the potential 2008 presidential possibilities in one place for people to read their reactions to the president's speech.

It seems the most significant reaction is from one of the GOP's more conservative contenders for president, Senator Sam Brownback, who is speaking out against adding more U.S. troops.

While most of the candidates for president in 2008 were responding to the president's speech New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson was in the Sudan negotiating a peace accord on Darfur.

Following are the reactions of the 2008 presidential possibilities to Bush's speech on sending more troops to Iraq:

REPUBLICANS

Senator Sam Brownback (KS)

"I do not believe that sending more troops to Iraq is the answer. Iraq requires a political rather than a military solution."

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich

"There was a humility in tonight's speech. A recognition that some of the things he most wanted had not happened. And that the plans were not working the way he'd hoped for. I thought this was a more contrite and more dedicated George W. Bush saying to the country this is a hard problem but we have to get in it together. And I thought in that sense it was a strong speech."

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani

"You always have to make readjustments when you're at war, and we are at war. ... I think the president did the right thing tonight. And I think the important thing here -- the increase in troops, critical and important, but the most important thing is the change in strategy. ... It reminds me a little of the problem I faced in reducing crime in New York."

Senator Chuck Hagel (NE)

"This is a dangerously wrong-headed strategy that will drive America deeper into an unwinnable swamp at a great cost
...
We should be focused on helping the Iraqis find a political solution and creating a policy that allows us to leave Iraq honorably, has the sustained support of the American people and does not further destabilize the Middle East."

Former Arkansas Mayor Mike Huckabee

"I think we have to give the commander-in-chief an opportunity to make this succeed. You said people have said he's stubborn. That's a good quality in an executive. You don't want someone who changes the course of a military every time there's a new opinion poll."

Senator John McCain (AZ)

"I thought it was an excellent speech. The president acknowledged that the strategy has failed. It's a new strategy and I emphasize strategy because before we would clear and leave and the insurgents would return and take over the neighborhoods.
Now this is the counterinsurgency strategy of clear, hold and build so that the economic and political process can move forward, Larry. So this is a new strategy. I believe those who are calling for withdrawal have the obligation to tell us what we do in the region when it descends into chaos, as my friend Lindsey Graham just said.
I'm very pleased to put it in the hands of the architect of our counterinsurgency doctrine, General Petraeus, and our new central commander, Admiral Fallon. So I can't guarantee success here, but I certainly can guarantee the consequences of failure....
I think it's winnable in that we can establish a viable and functioning government and have political and economic development. I don't think it's going to be easy. I think it's going to be will be very difficult.
But I strongly feel that with enough troops in certain areas, including Anbar, you can provide protection."

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney

"It is impossible to defeat the insurgency without first providing security for the Iraqi people. In consultation with generals, military experts, and troops who have served on the ground in Iraq, I believe securing Iraqi civilians requires additional troops."

DEMOCRATS

Senator Joseph Biden (DE)

"We heard a plan to escalate the war, not only in Iraq but possibly into Syria and Iran as well. I believe the President's strategy is not a solution, Secretary Rice, I believe it is a tragic mistake."

General Wesley Clark

"I think what you've got to do is change the strategy. I think the scenario that he's given us isn't a change in the strategy."

Senator Hilary Clinton (NY)

"Based on the president's speech tonight, I cannot support his proposed escalation of the war in Iraq."
"The President simply has not gotten the message sent loudly and clearly by the American people, that we desperately need a new course. The president has not offered a new direction, instead he will continue to take us down the wrong road, only faster."

Former Senator John Edwards (NC)

"I think what America needs from their president under the circumstances is, first, trust. They need to feel like they can trust their president. They need to have a sense of honesty and decency that the president is trying to make the right decision, the best judgment under very difficult circumstances.
What I saw was a very academic, analytical speech, making the case for putting more troops in Iraq. And I think that's not what America needed from its president right now. I think the president is profoundly wrong. I think escalating the war is a huge mistake.
But beyond that, what's happened is that the trust in the president has eroded. And America has to feel in their gut that whether he's right or wrong the president's telling the truth.
And instead of all of the statistics and information that he had in his speech, he should have said, "The situation is very bad in Iraq right now. We're doing the best we can with a difficult situation."

Senator John Kerry (MA)

"The plan is neither new nor forward-looking. This is more of what's taken us backwards. There's no military solution in Iraq. There is only a political solution, and the president has no plan to achieve it."

Representative Dennis Kucinich (OH)

"This Administration is preparing to escalate the conflict. They intend to increase troop levels to unprecedented numbers, without establishing an ending date.
It is important for Congress to oppose the troop surge. But that is not enough. We must respond powerfully to take steps to end the occupation, close U.S. bases in Iraq and bring our troops home.
These steps are necessary preconditions to the U.S. extricating itself from Iraq through the establishment of an international security and peacekeeping force.
That's what the Kucinich Plan, which I presenting to Congress today is all about. Congress is a co-equal branch of government. We have an urgent responsibility here. Congress under Article I, Section 8, has the war-making power. Congress appropriates funds for the war.
Congress does not dispense with its obligation to the American people simply by opposing a troop surge in Iraq. It is simply not credible to maintain that one opposes the war, yet continues to fund it. If you oppose the war, then don't vote to fund it."

Senator Barack Obama (IL)

"I did not see anything in the speech or anything in the run- up to the speech that provides evidence that an additional 15,000 to 20,000 more U.S. troops is going to make a significant dent in the sectarian violence that's taking place there.
And I didn't see any political strategy in the president's remarks to get Shia and Sunni to arrive at the sort of political accommodation that I think will ultimately be necessary.
The last point I make... the one bit of leverage we have over the Iraqis at this stage are troop deployments. And there have to be some consequences for their failure to arrive at a political accommodation by actually escalating this war as opposed to initiating a phased withdrawal. I think the president is taking away whatever leverage we have.
We're not going to baby sit a civil war."

Governor Tom Vilsack (IA)

"Now the president and the Congress are poised to make a big mistake even bigger. Understand that escalation will come at the expense of families and communities here in Iowa and across the nation."