Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., provided the Democratic response to President Bush's speech on Thursday night.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush once again failed to provide a plan to successfully end the war in Iraq, Democrats said after his primetime address Thursday while touting their strategy "to responsibly and rapidly" begin pulling U.S. forces out of the war zone.
"The president rightfully invoked the valor of our troops in his speech, but his plan does not amount to real change," said Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, who delivered the Democratic response.
"Soldiers take a solemn oath to protect our nation, and we have a solemn responsibility to send them into battle only with clear and achievable missions. Tonight, the president provided neither," he said.
U.S. successes in Iraq mean some troops can begin to come home, but others will have to stay there into 2009 and beyond, the president announced Thursday night.
Bush also acknowledged the Iraqi government has not met its own legislative benchmarks and its success would require U.S. engagement that would extend beyond his presidency.
President Bush addressed the American public about the Iraq war on Thursday night.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - U.S. successes in Iraq mean "we can begin seeing troops come home," President Bush announced Thursday night.
But Bush cautioned that the U.S. must not abandon Iraq while it is "fighting for its survival."
Earlier, the White House said Bush will pledge to bring home 5,700 soldiers from Iraq by Christmas.
Full story: Bush: Iraq is 'fighting for its survival'
WASHINGTON (CNN) - U.S. successes in Iraq mean "we can begin seeing troops come home," but other American troops will remain there into 2009 and beyond, President Bush will announce Thursday night.
Bush is scheduled to deliver a national address on the war at 9:01 p.m. ET, touting what he says are the achievements of the troop "surge" he launched in January.
"Our success in meeting these objectives now allows us to begin bringing some of our troops home," Bush will tell viewers, according to excerpts released by the White House.
Virginia Sen. Jim Webb has a plan that may have enough votes in the U.S. Senate.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – On Capitol Hill, Senate Democrats believe they are making inroads toward a strategy to force a change in U.S. policy in Iraq. Congressional sources say they may be “close to having 60 votes” on a proposal from Sen. Jim Webb, D-Virginia, that would give American troops more time between deployments. Senate rules require 60 votes to defeat a filibuster and bring an issue to a vote, and 67 votes to overcome a veto from the president.
Supporters say mandating more time between deployments would force a reduction in troop levels because there are not enough troops to sustain a constant level of the130-thousand expected to remain in Iraq under the schedule laid out in the Petraeus Report.
The Webb plan is more moderate than the mandatory withdrawal timetables Democrats have failed to get, but said one source, “This has the advantage of being doable.”
The Democratic leadership is looking for votes off a list of 11 Senate Republicans who have been critical “in one form or another” of President Bush’s strategy in Iraq. Though expressing optimism, one Democratic source admitted, with the exceptions of Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Nebraska, and Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Oregon, “We still don’t have any Republicans making a clean break with the president, yet.”
The measure – which would likely be attached to a Defense Authorization Bill – must also pass the House. Republican leadership sources there say they are confident the Webb amendment, which failed to garner the two-thirds majority necessary to overcome a veto the last time around, would meet the same fate in the House now.
Still, if the Senate passes the bill, war-weary House Republicans may feel freer to vote for it.
Despite the optimism in the Senate, Democratic aides were reluctant to make any predictions, noting that shopping and reshaping proposals is “a gradual process.”
- CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Many are wondering what President Bush will say in his prime-time speech to the nation about the Iraq war, but it's worth noting one phrase they surely will not hear: "Stay the course."
The president gave up that phrase long ago because it was further complicating efforts to sell a war with sliding public support.
But the fundamental question looming over the president's eighth prime-time address on Iraq is this: Regardless of how the president packages this progress report, will it amount to a de facto stay-the-course battle plan?
- CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry
Sens. Obama and Clinton are battling for the votes of African-Americans in the South Carolina Democratic primary.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - A new poll released Thursday from Winthrop University and ETV shows Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama with overwhelming leads over the rest of the Democratic field when it comes to African-Americans in South Carolina.
According to the poll, 35.4 percent of African-American voters said they would vote for Obama if the election were held today, while 30.7 percent said they would vote for Clinton. Just three percent chose former Senator John Edwards.
However, the poll suggests the race for South Carolina may come down to African-American women.
While Obama leads Clinton 42 percent to 30 percent among men, the margin is significantly narrower among females. Clinton leads Obama in that subset by just three-tenths of a percentage point, 30.9 to 30.6. On top of that, 33.8 percent of African American women remain undecided.
The poll surveyed randomly selected African-Americans and not necessarily likely voters.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
Senator Obama said South Carolina voters just need some more time to get to know him.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) – In an interview with South Carolina-based ETV Thursday, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said he has "the strongest grassroots organization" ever assembled in the early primary state.
"Obviously, it's still quite some ways off before the South Carolina primary," Obama said in the phone interview. "We will be campaigning down there. We've got the strongest grassroots organization that I think folks have ever seen down in South Carolina."
Obama's campaign here is promoting their organizational efforts in urban and rural communities across the state with the goal of introducing the senator from Illinois to voters who may now know him as well as Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, or former Senator John Edwards, a South Carolina native.
"People are still getting familiar with my track record," Obama said. "We are going to be spending more time down there. There will be Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire primaries before the South Carolina primary. By the time South Carolina's primary comes along, I guarantee you that people will know my track record."
"I think they will understand that we don't just talk about change, that I've stood for change for many years and I think they will be very confident in my capacity to lead this country and they will vote for me."
– CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
Giuliani greets a potential voter at an Atlanta restaurant Thursday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - An average of six national polls released following former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson's official entry into the White House race shows that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani holds a 7-point lead over the former "Law & Order" star.
The polls: ABC News/Washington Post, CBS/New York Times, USAToday/Gallup, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, and FOX News/Opinion Dynamic, shows Giuliani at 30 percent with Thompson in second at 23 percent. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, polls 16 percent, while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is at 11 percent.
On the Democratic side, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, holds a commanding lead over Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, 44 percent to 25 percent. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards comes in third with 16 percent.