Other spins: “Bush Seeks to Rally GOP Around Iraq Plan” (later headline from AP); “Bush Rallies Worried Republicans on Capitol Hill” (Reuters).
This rare meeting seems to be becoming an annual event.
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Bush sought to rally Republican lawmakers around his Iraq plan Thursday, saying Iraqis are ready to “take the training wheels off” by assuming some political power, but warning that violence is likely to worsen as that transfer approaches.
The president made a rare visit to Capitol Hill as lawmakers prepare to head to their home states for the Memorial Day recess.
“This has been a rough couple of months for the president, particularly on the issues of Iraq, and I think he was here to remind folks that we do have a policy and this policy is going to be tough,” said Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa. “Things, as I think he commented, are very likely to get worse before they get better.”
It was the second year in a row that Bush met behind closed doors exclusively with his fellow Republicans just ahead of the congressional Memorial Day break. The stakes were especially high this year: Bush and most lawmakers face re-election, and Iraq is still plagued by chaos and violence six weeks before the United States cedes some power to Iraqis.