Over at the LA Times, Paul Richter (full disclosure: he’s my spouse, or as we think of him around here, Mr. Swamp) and Peter Nicholas notice that the Republican Senators are not the only GOP politicians who are getting more and more uncomfortable being aligned with President Bush on the surge:
As President Bush struggles to maintain support in Congress for his Iraq “surge” strategy, the three leading Republican presidential contenders have been quietly backing away from any commitment to continue the buildup.
Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson have made it clear that their original support for the escalation does not mean they are signed on to keeping the current 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, even as they have laid out hawkish positions on other aspects of foreign policy.
Their recent moves underscore the president’s growing isolation on Iraq as the GOP begins searching for a post-Bush foreign policy. The shifts also distance the three top contenders from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the former front-runner who Tuesday reaffirmed his commitment to the troop escalation.
Of the leading GOP contenders — all of whom endorsed the original decision to wage war on Saddam Hussein — Romney has been the most candid in expressing the view that the surge may not work.
If the fall assessment finds the surge is working, “then we’ll pursue this strategy and, if it’s successful, start bringing our troops home,” the former Massachusetts governor said during a campaign appearance in Iowa this month.
“If it’s not,” he said, “then we’ll have to take alternative strategies.”