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Bush Dismisses GOP Senate Leader’s Iraq Benchmark Suggestion January 31, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Congress, Politics, US News, White House.

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–In a wide-ranging interview to be aired on Fox News Channel Wednesday, U.S. President George W. Bush said he believes a Senate resolution proposing a series of benchmarks for Iraq would be a mistake, according to transcript excerpts provided by Fox.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Monday said that a resolution opposing a troop buildup in Iraq was unlikely to pass, but added that Republicans might be willing to coalesce around an alternative resolution setting benchmark goals for the Iraqi government.

However, Bush dismissed the suggestion in the interview with Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto. “I think it’s a mistake to put timetables on difficult missions because an enemy can adjust,” he said. “On the other hand, I certainly understand the urgency in Mitch’s voice,” Bush said. “I also understand the skepticism on Capitol Hill…. And the best thing for me to do is to put a plan in place that is more likely to succeed than any other plan they’ve proposed, and work to make it work.”

Bush said the plan requires the U.S. reinforcing troops in a manner that helps the Iraqi government defeat sectarian violence.

Asked about the Iraqi president Nouri Al-Maliki, Bush said, “Well, what matters is whether or not he (al-Maliki) performs,” Bush said.

Bush said that at the moment, al-Maliki is “in the process of performing,” saying more Iraqi troops are moving into Baghdad, and that they are “going after murderers, regardless of their religious persuasion.”

In the interview, Bush criticized the nationalization of Venezuela’s industry proposed by President Hugo Chavez.

“My worry, of course, is that the nationalization of industry will make it harder for the Venezuelan people to be lifted out of poverty, will make it harder for the people to realize their full potential,” Bush said.

“I’m concerned about the Venezuelan people, and I’m worried about the diminution of democratic institution, as well as nationalization efforts that may or may not be taking place.”

In considering one of his potential successors, Bush said Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has some of the right tools, but may lack experience.

“He hasn’t gotten elected yet. He hasn’t even gotten the party’s nomination,” Bush said. “He’s an attractive guy. He’s articulate. I’ve been impressed with him when I’ve seen him in person, but he’s got a long way to go to be president.”


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