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Bush Meets With Republicans Worried by Iraq
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Bush Meets With Republicans Worried by Iraq

Politics

Bush Meets With Republicans Worried by Iraq

Bush Meets With Republicans Worried by Iraq
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The Bush administration is facing growing congressional pressure on Iraq war funding, as some Republicans are joining Democrats in demanding benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet — and for a timetable for winding down the U.S. commitment.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Just as Parliament turned against Tony Blair on the issue of Iraq, the U.S. Congress has been resisting President Bush on the war. But unlike Blair, the president has been able to count on near unanimous support from his own party. The White House insists that remains the case despite a meeting the president held with uneasy Republicans this week.

NPR's Don Gonyea reports.

DON GONYEA: That meeting at the White House with GOP moderates took place Tuesday but it did not become public until last night. Some of those presents say the Republican House members told the president that the American public is war fatigue - that they need to know if there's a way out. They also pointedly said the White House has lost credibility on the war, and that there must be significant political and military progress in Iraq by September or the president's Republican support will erode.

The White House says this was not a revolt, but press secretary Tony Snow seemed at a bit of a loss trying to characterize the session, which he attended.

Mr. TONY SNOW (White House Press Secretary): They have been - in exchanges like their interesting. The president wants to hear what people have to say.

GONYEA: But, this is a kind of criticism Mr. Bush doesn't often get from within his own party. Today, Snow insisted that the president holds meetings all the time with people representing a wide range of opinion but keeps such meetings confidential, and Snow refuse to discuss what was said between the president and the Republican moderates this week. Snow said that if there was talk about frustration over the war, then that's hardly big news, and he argued that there actually remains great unity within the party. He cited GOP reaction to the plan put forth by Democrats and the House to fund the war for just the next two months.

Mr. SNOW: The president made it really clear. Any plan to cut of funding after 30 days is not going to happen. Any plan to revisit after 60 days, not going to happen. They already got Republican unity - the Republicans are united on this. And so what Republicans are saying - some Republicans - is we want to see more and the president say, yeah, of course you do. And we want to see more of this.

GONYEA: For his part, the president toured the Pentagon today. He talked about the need for Congress to get him an Iraq funding bill that provides all the funding he's requested now. He was asked about the meeting this week with worried Republicans. He too offered little of substance calling it, quote, "a good exchange."

President GEORGE W. BUSH: It gave me a chance to share with them my feelings about the Iraqi issue. I spent time talking to them about what it meant to fail and what it means when we succeed. They express their opinions. They obviously were concerned about the Iraq war, and so are a lot of other people.

GONYEA: A lot of other people indeed. And they are starting to turn up in places where the president has always been able to count of full support.

Don Gonyea, NPR News, the White House.

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