August 31st, 2010
05:44 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama not planning to credit Bush over Iraq 'surge'

President Obama will not give credit to George W. Bush for the 2007 surge in Iraq.
President Obama will not give credit to George W. Bush for the 2007 surge in Iraq.

Washington (CNN) –In his Oval Office address on Iraq Tuesday night, President Obama is planning to ignore Republican suggestions that he acknowledge a personal mistake and give credit to former President George W. Bush for executing the 2007 surge of troops over the objections of Obama and other Democratic senators at the time, according to two senior administration officials familiar with the speech.

The officials added that during the speech marking the end of combat operation in Iraq the President will also address the economic crisis in America by talking about how restoring prosperity at home is critical to maintaining the nation's strength abroad, which Obama alluded to back in May at a commencement address at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

"Simply put, American innovation must be the foundation of American power - because at no time in human history has a nation of diminished economic vitality maintained its military and political primacy," Obama said in the May commencement address. "And so that means that the civilians among us, as parents and community leaders, elected officials, business leaders, we have a role to play. We cannot leave it to those in uniform to defend this country - we have to make sure that America is building on its strengths."

Senior administration officials say the President wants his Iraq address to be more forward-looking and thus is not planning to spend any time in the 15-20 minute speech looking backward on the divisive 2007 Congressional debate over whether Bush should surge more troops into Iraq.

Ignoring a replay of that 2007 debate could be political advantageous for Obama given the fact that top Republicans like House Minority Leader John Boehner early blasted the President for opposing the surge.

"One lawmaker rejected the idea that the surge would reduce violence in Iraq, saying - and again I'm quoting - 'in fact, I think it will do the reverse,'" the Ohio Republican said in reference to Obama during a speech to the American Legion convention in Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered a speech suggesting Bush deserves more credit for reaching this milestone.

"You might recall that the surge wasn't very popular when it was announced," said the Republican from Kentucky. "You might also recall that one of its biggest critics was the current president. So it makes it easier to talk about fulfilling a campaign promise to wind down our operations in Iraq when the previous administration signs the security agreement with Iraq to end our overall presence there."

Asked about the Republican attacks on Obama, one senior administration official said flatly: "Who cares?"

This official explained the President is more interested in focusing on acknowledging the combat mission is coming to an end and thanking U.S. troops for their hard work to "show the world America has the determination to finish the job" after a long conflict.

A second senior administration official added the President wants to use the address in part to turn the nation's attention to ratcheting up combat operations in Afghanistan. This official noted Obama spent a lot of time during the 2008 campaign vowing not only to bring home combat troops in Iraq within 16 months of taking office, but also said he wanted to finally give Afghanistan the resources it needed.

"This is what he promised in the campaign: responsibly ending the war in Iraq, and then using our resources to bring the fight directly to al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan," said the senior official.

During a visit with U.S. troops at Ft. Bliss in Texas earlier on Tuesday, Obama signaled he will spend a good chunk of his speech preparing the nation for heavier casualties and "heartbreak" in Afghanistan in the days ahead as new commanding Gen. David Petraeus takes the fight directly to the enemy.

"We also have a very tough fight in Afghanistan," Obama said. "It's going to be a tough slog."


Filed under: Iraq • issues • President George W. Bush • President Obama
soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. Hugo

    Gee go figure, it was all Bush's fault are the only words the Ospender in Chief knows, knows it in Arabic too no doubt. Any bets on how long it takes Iraq to decompose as we pull out to focus on Afghanistan, no solid government yet established, good job Obama, your only task after GW wins the day with the surge. What a dismal outlook we have...Where are the JOBS??

    2012 Hope for Change!

    August 31, 2010 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  2. Shawn-Ga

    Reporters were always asking Bush if he wanted to say he was wrong and apologize for anything... We are far beyond the point when Obama needs to answer this question.

    August 31, 2010 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  3. Shawn-Ga

    I think it is hysterical that he is going to mention the economy at the same time he speaks about the war... Feeding into the whole blind followers who think that the war was the reason for the economic troubles... Let us not forget another truth. The stimulus $s spend by this President was higher than the entire cost of the Iraq war.

    We did not get what we were promised from the stimulus Obama threw that money away, and now he wants to spend even more!

    August 31, 2010 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  4. Willa

    Pres. Obama should give Pres.Bush for destroying this economy and not finding WMD in Iraq. The Republicans are a joke with no ideas! I'm voting Democrat for a better future.

    August 31, 2010 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  5. angie

    He can give Bush credit for the mess he left . I hope he announces that the monies wasted on this war can now be used for jobs, jobs, jobs. I wish the right wingers just shut up and come with up a plan for their party besides tax breaks for the rich .

    August 31, 2010 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  6. Mark

    Obama would give himself credit for the surge he apposed

    August 31, 2010 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  7. Clwyd

    I hope he give bush credit for starting the whole mess in the first place and then telling us "Mission Accomplished!" My foot!

    August 31, 2010 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  8. D

    And he shouldn't. Republicans are doing same as usual, they figured out they can get their hands on social security and pillage it next (and current #'s show it's actually sustainable til 2040 with full payouts, and 2080 w/ partial per government info..course repubs are saying its bankrupt and there's nothing there..another lie). Interview they just did they laughed about just attack and not telling anybody what their actual agenda really is since 82% of the country is against dismantling social security..so America better wake up...If these thugs get elected again, this time it's taking the only thing that's left...and it WILL affect you.

    August 31, 2010 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  9. all of America

    He actually called bush for advice on the withdraw ,because obama doesn't have a clue what to do.

    August 31, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  10. khardy

    This loser continues to make himself and his party look bad...Obama is without honor.

    August 31, 2010 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  11. Louisiana Man

    I would 'credit' idoit bush-where does one begin-

    Invading a sovereign country unprovoked-

    Deploying thousands of our kids to kill ten of thousands of innocents and they in turn be killed based on a LIE-

    Aiding and abetting cheesy to enrich his personal coffers with no bid contracts for his buddies Haliburton on the backs of dead soldiers in flag draped coffins-

    Bloating our deficit to gazillions

    Borrowing from our good friends China to pay for useless war-

    Silly grandstanding on aircraft carrier erroneously proclaiming"MISSION ACCOMPLISHED"

    Nearly bankrupting our country to appease daddy's unfinished war

    No exit strategy and a pitiful failed policy

    August 31, 2010 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  12. all the news that is fit too omit

    I would expect no less from the biggest gutless and clueless fraud to ever be "selected, elected and now protected"...

    Great job this morning Fibbs, even the "non-Fox" networks were questioning you and Oweblamo's LIES about the surge etc, etc, etc.

    The "wizards of uhhhhhhs" these two...

    August 31, 2010 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  13. bfranklin

    in order to credit Bush, he would have to admit he was wrong about the surge. The GREAT OBAMA could never admit he was wrone. He will never apologize for himself, just for everyone else. This guy has a superiority complex and I'm sick of him constantly talking down to the American people.

    August 31, 2010 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  14. jenn, philadelphia

    He wants his speech to be "forward looking". Up until something goes wrong, at which point he'll give another speech blaming Bush. To continually hold back from acknowledging the surge worked and he was wrong is as stubborn as Democrats always accused Bush of being.

    August 31, 2010 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  15. southern cousin

    Those of who see this blithering idiot for the inept, corrupt, incompetent fraud he has always been told you he would not credit Bush. His narcissitic mentality, combined with his hatred and abhorence of decency and personal responsibility won't let him.

    August 31, 2010 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  16. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    It isn't a surprise that Obama didn't give credit to Bush for the surge. It might have been something that most presidents would have done. The surge was something that Obama was left like much of the other messes. Why would Obama thank Bush for that?

    August 31, 2010 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  17. ruty

    George Bush is a relative of Sarah Palin. I can see air through his ears from my house.

    August 31, 2010 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  18. Jeanne H.

    And why should he? The "surge" was a fraud, just like the Iraq war was a fraud. In the "surge" we basically put more troops there, paid the insurgents so they won't kill us, then called it a success. The whole Iraq war was just so illegal and immoral. To give Bush "credit" for the surge in Iraq would be the same as giving credit to somebody who burned down your house then organized a large plane to drop water on it, then claim success for a brilliant move! I am appalled that so many americans didn't see through this fraud.

    August 31, 2010 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  19. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Why should he? Bush opposed the increase in troops until after his re-election. He even fired Gen. Shinseki for telling him that Iraq needs more troops. Bush does NOT deserve ANY credit for the surge!

    August 31, 2010 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  20. The Incompetent Mr. Obama

    There's a shock.

    OBOZO, the arrogant one, thinks his "POO" doesn't stink.

    Well, OBOZO, we know you are full of it, and you do stink.

    August 31, 2010 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  21. Peter E

    The hypocritic republican propaganda is on the move. Every single one of these republicans now criticizing Obama also opposed the troop surge initially. Until their 2004 election they all downplayed the violencein Iraq, being yes-men to Bush/Cheney. (who even fired generals who dared disagree with Bush's messed up strategy) Neither Bush, nor the hypocritic republicans deserve ANY credit for the surge!

    Ironically, neither does Obama deserve credit for troop removal. A) Obama originally promised to draw down our troops to 30,000, ulike his opponents like Hillary or McCain who promised it at 50-60,000. B) The troops withdrawal was a plan initiated by Bush already.

    August 31, 2010 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  22. Jonathan

    Would you expect any different?

    August 31, 2010 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  23. Shannon

    So you give Bush credit for everything else (bad economy, etc), but not for this??

    August 31, 2010 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  24. Steve (the real one)

    Obama does not need to credit Bush. That would be an embarrassment to him (Obama). Most level headed, thinking Americans already know that the surge was successful and was a Bush/Petraeus collaboration! Besides (then Senators) Obama and Biden gave speeches that firmly opposed the surge in the first place!

    August 31, 2010 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  25. Bhavin

    Obama should certainly acknowledge stupidity of Bush, his egocentric war just to get even with sad dam for insulting his father and lying to US people thus making himself a big cheat. We all know this but at least Obama should acknowledge this fact. Thanks to Bush and his arrogance and stupidity USA is a poor country. Joblessness and recession is due to the war which was not at all required. This is like selling our home to he others.

    August 31, 2010 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
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