Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Lightning Rod: ''Republicans react to Dean's comment comparing Iraq to Vietnam''

"Fighting the war of Iraq strategy: President Bush on Tuesday added his voice to Republican criticism of Howard Dean's statement that the United States cannot win the war in Iraq.

"I know we're going to win," Bush told reporters at the White House. "Our troops need to hear not only are they supported, but that we have got a strategy that will win."

Dean, the Democratic National Chairman, on Monday told a San Antonio, Texas, radio station that the United States appears to be making the same mistakes it made during the Vietnam War, and the idea that the war in Iraq can be won is "just plain wrong."

Dean drew parallels between the current administration's plan to turn security over to the Iraqis and efforts during the Vietnam War to give similar responsibilities to the South Vietnamese.

South Vietnam fell to the communists in 1975, two years after the U.S. withdrawal.

"I do not believe in making the same mistake twice, and America appears to have made the same mistake twice," Dean said during an interview with WOIA radio, adding that he wished Bush "had paid more attention to the history of Iraq before we had gotten in there."

In response, Bush conceded that there would be disagreements over how to handle the war, but said the nation was behind its troops. (Watch the president blast back -- 2:12)

"Of course, there will be debate, and of course, there will be some pessimists and some people playing politics with the issue," he said. "But, by far, the vast majority of the people in this country stand squarely with the men and women who wear the nation's uniform." (Watch how the Bush administration is using the word 'victory' -- 1:59)

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman called Dean's comments "outrageous."

"I think that it sends the wrong message to our troops, sends the wrong message to the Iraqi people -- who [on December 15] are going to vote in elections -- and it certainly sends the wrong message to the enemy," he said.

But DNC spokeswoman Karen Finney said Republicans had cherry-picked Dean's words "just like they cherry-picked the pre-war intelligence."

"Staying the course and paying for good headlines are not a strategy. It's merely a bad excuse for not having a plan,"
Finney said in a written statement."-from CNN.

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