(CNN) – As White House aides put the finishing touches on President Obama's Oval Office address marking the end of combat missions in Iraq, how will they negotiate the biggest elephant not in the room – former President George W. Bush?
In an interview with CNN's John Roberts Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was decidedly unclear when it came to whether the president would tip his hat to his predecessor's successful surge strategy – a strategy both Obama and Vice President Biden stridently opposed when they were both presidential candidates during the early stages of the 2008 race for the White House.
In his interview with CNN, Gibbs suggested the improved conditions in Iraq were the result of more than the decision to add more troops in 2007.
"We knew that adding those men and women in there would improve the security situation, but the reason we are where we are today is because of an improved political situation," Gibbs said on CNN's American Morning.
"We know that the Sunni awakening, Sunni tribes in the western part of Iraq began not to fight with but to fight against al Qaeda. And all of those circumstances led to a point in which we're at today," he continued. "I will say this, john - I think many people believe that when the president made a commitment to end our combat mission in Iraq by August 31st, 2010, I am not sure many people believed that he could pull it off."
Obama will deliver his Oval Office address at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday.