Senate Minority Leader McConnell held a call with a few bloggers and journalists this morning. He supports the president’s plan for a surge, which he views as “courageous and correct.” He reasons that the object in Iraq is to win, which means leaving behind a stable (if imperfect) government that’s an ally in the war on terror. This cannot be accomplished unless the capital is secure. Therefore, we need to clear, hold, and build the neigborhoods, not just clear them.
Since Iraqi forces must be heavily involved in these efforts, especially the “hold” part, their cooperation is key. McConnell is encouraged that the Iraqi president has agreed that no neighborhoods will be exempt from our new effort. If this holds up, McConnell believes “there’s a chance [the new strategy] will work.”
The Democrats oppose the surge. Their goal, McConnell says, is to give up in Iraq, but they are not willing to admit this. Therefore, he expects the opposition to take the form of a resolution against the surge that will lack any legal force. He does not expect the Democrats to prevent funding of the surge.
I asked the Senator whether he thinks he can hold the Senate Republicans together in light of opposition to the president’s plan, not just from the usual suspects but from folks like Norm Coleman and others who represent states where the war in especially unpopular. McConnell said he was “hopeful” of keeping enough Republicans to muster the 40 votes needed to block a resolution (which in any case would be non-binding). McConnell added that he looks forward to the support of Sen. Lieberman. However, he could not say that any other Democrats will join the Connecticut Senator.
UPDATE: You can find the audio of the Minority Leader’s blogger conference here.
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