Bill Bennett and Seth Leibsohn

GOP Hopefuls Keep Distance From Bush; Republican Candidates Run from Bush; Republicans Backing Away From Bush. These are the headlines we have and will continue to see again and again throughout the remainder of the 2008 primary campaign and after every GOP debate. With approval numbers in the high 20s and low 30s, the president cannot expect the GOP candidates for president to run toward him, and on any number of issues the candidates are well within their rights and judgments to put daylight between the outgoing administration and their hopeful one.

But on one issue, the candidates should not run from the president, in fact they should run toward him and close any distance or doubt between them: the battle of our lifetime, the global war against Islamic terrorism and its battleground Iraq.

We propose they do so as soon as possible, in one press conference where they all stand united in one voice and say: “On this issue, on the war against Islamic terror, in the battle for Iraq, we stand with one voice and one policy: Victory. We support both the troops and the mission and you cannot divide that support. The troops and their generals believe in what they are doing, that they can win if they are given the necessary support. We believe them, we believe in them, and will do everything in our political power to help see them through to victory. On this issue, there is no daylight among the president, our servicemen and women in Iraq, and us. We will not support premature withdrawal or surrender.”

Let the press conference happen soon, as the House has just voted to stop the war in April of next year; the Senate is debating the very same; other politicians are arguing for an even sooner withdrawal; and the media is making heroes of a handful of Senate Republicans who are distancing themselves from the president on Iraq.

Let it take place at Ground Zero in New York. Politicizing the war? Hardly. That has already been done by those who have stampeded to the Senate and House floors, rushing to be the first with a new withdrawal plan for Iraq; or by declaring the war “a failure;” or “a meatgrinder;” or the lives of our soldiers “wasted” or “squandered;” or saying the president lied us into war; or by the attempted rewriting of history from the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act (signed by President Bill Clinton) to what those who voted to authorize the war in 2002 did and did not say — did and did not mean — when they spoke in favor of and voted for the authorization of that force.


Bill Bennett and Seth Leibsohn

Bill Bennett & Seth Leibsohn are fellows of the Claremont Institute and the host and producer of Bill Bennett’s Morning in America, respectively. Bill Bennett is the author of Our Country's Founders .

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