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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

Here's one of the calmer things that senators said yesterday while questioning President Bush's plans for Iraq.

Senator JOE BIDEN (Democrat, Delaware): I believe the president's strategy is not a solution, Secretary Rice. I believe it's a tragic mistake.

INSKEEP: That's Democrat Joe Biden. He was speaking to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She was defending the president's plan at a hearing, and even Republicans had sharp questions, including Minnesota's Norm Coleman.

Senator NORM COLEMAN (Republican, Minnesota): To put the lives of, you know, of Americans more in the center of that without first having something that's substantial, something we can point to other than this sense of trust, other than looking someone in the eye, having a conversation, I'm not prepared at this time to support that.

INSKEEP: And when Rice started describing progress in Iraq, Republican Chuck Hagel interrupted.

Senator CHUCK HAGEL (Republican, Nebraska): Your intelligence and mine is a lot different. And I know my time is up here, but to sit there and say that, Madam Secretary, that's just not true.

Ms. CONDOLEEZZA RICE (U.S. Secretary of State): Well, Senator…

Sen. HAGEL: That is not true.

Ms. RICE: Senator, if you'll allow me to finish, I think you've - there is a point I'd like to make about the Iraqis killing Iraqis, and what that really is. There are…

Sen. HAGEL: Well, what that really is is pretty obvious…

Ms. RICE: There are deaths…

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