Kesler isn't advocating Ron Paul's isolationism or Joe Biden's "surrender slower" formula; just the opposite. As he said last week on Backbone Radio, now is the time to articulate a Plan B for after the surge, by which the U.S. would pressure Saudi Arabia and Egypt as well as Iraq, Iran, and Syria to move internally against the virus of Islamism that caused Sept. 11 and will cause more like it.
Your models are Eisenhower on Korea in 1952, and Nixon on Vietnam in 1968. Without running as anti-war, each won by pivoting toward a new approach, away from the status quo. Though the military outcomes were imperfect, both Republicans avoided the surrender temptation. Your counter-examples are Humphrey in 1968 and Gore in 2000; neither distanced himself enough from a flawed incumbent. Be bold, sir, and victory is yours.
Note: It's not clear which campaign the above was leaked from. While the pivot would be easiest for Fred Thompson or Newt Gingrich, any Republican could do it. Who will?