Bush losing GOP support on Iraq

Playing to a military audience, as with the president's trip to Newport, spares him the likelihood of facing criticism over the war in Iraq. It's getting harder not to notice, though, when people like Senator Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and someone whom the New York Times calls "a steadfast supporter," parts company with the administration:

“In my judgment, the costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved,” Mr. Lugar said Monday during a 50-minute speech on the Senate floor, which was delivered after nearly everyone in the Capitol had retired for the evening. “Persisting indefinitely with the surge strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our vital interests over the long term.”

In an interview with reporters on Tuesday, Mr. Lugar said President Bush had limited time to change the course of the war because of the 2008 presidential campaign.

“We’re heading into a very partisan era,” he said. “The president has the opportunity now to bring about a bipartisan foreign policy. I don’t think he’ll have that option very long.”

His remarks reverberated through Capitol Hill on Tuesday, picking up support from other Republican senators, even as the White House, which was not alerted about Mr. Lugar’s speech in advance, tried to minimize their significance.

. . . .

Senator George V. Voinovich, an Ohio Republican who also serves on the Foreign Relations Committee, echoed Mr. Lugar’s message in a letter to the president on Tuesday, a critique whose timing was coordinated to follow on the heels of Mr. Lugar’s.

“I am also concerned that we are running out of time,” Mr. Voinovich wrote in the letter.

Other Republicans also said their patience was waning.

“The one real disappointment is that the Iraqi government has not stepped up and fulfilled what we think is the role that they need to play,” said Senator Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina. “If that doesn’t happen quickly, I’m sure more of us will come to the conclusion that Senator Lugar has.”

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