Bush: No plans for quick pullout from Iraq
President George W. Bush has no plans to withdraw troops from Iraq now, the White House said on Monday, despite growing pressure from members of his own Republican party for a change in policy. But Senate Democrats intended to hold votes on troop pullouts, hoping to capitalize on Republican defections to build a congressional majority around an exit strategy.
"A growing number of Republicans are now speaking against the failed strategy in Iraq, and that's good," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Bush plans to lay out what an aide called "his vision for the post-surge" in a bid to assure Americans that he too wants to start withdrawing U.S. troops eventually, The Washington Post reported in Tuesday's editions. Top administration officials also have started talking with key Senate Republicans about Bush's view of the next phase in the war, the report added.
The White House devised the political strategy after days of intense internal discussion about how to respond to Republican dissent over Bush's war strategy, the Post said. On Monday, the White House denied a New York Times report that debate was intensifying over whether Bush should try to prevent more Republican defections by declaring plans for a gradual pullout of forces from high-casualty Iraqi areas.
"There is no debate right now on withdrawing forces right now from Iraq," White House spokesman Tony Snow said.