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Democrats: Bush downplaying Iraq costs

Pelosi: 'Iraq policy has had little basis in reality'

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is among those accusing President Bush of downplaying Iraq war costs.

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CNN's Kelly Wallace on John Kerry's stance on Bush and Iraq.
George W. Bush
Nancy Pelosi

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A leading Democrat has challenged President Bush's comments that Iraq's oil revenues were "bigger than we thought."

"The administration insisted that Iraq's oil revenues could finance rebuilding the country, but the people of the United States have provided more than $120 billion thus far, much of it for reconstruction efforts," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in a written statement Wednesday.

"From the outset, the president's Iraq policy has had little basis in reality."

Bush made the statement in a Tuesday night news conference. (Full story)

Before the war, and toward the beginning of it, top administration officials offered estimates that later proved to be far off.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, speaking to the House Appropriations Committee on March 27, 2003, estimated the figure in the tens of billions of dollars if Iraq's oil fields were not destroyed.

"We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon," he said.

Once major combat ended, however, administration officials acknowledged that the oil revenues would be much lower than previously stated, partly due to some dilapidated infrastructure, and that reconstruction costs would be higher than expected.

Tuesday night, Bush was asked about prewar statements from his administration that oil revenue would pay for most of the reconstruction.

"The oil revenues, they're bigger than we thought they would be at this point in time," Bush said.

"I mean, one year after the liberation of Iraq, the revenues of the oil stream is pretty darn significant. One of the things I was concerned about, prior to going into Iraq, was that the oil fields would be destroyed, but they weren't. They're now up and running. And that money is -- it will benefit the Iraqi people. It's their oil, and they'll use it to reconstruct the country." (Audio slide show: In Bush's words)

Many Democrats point to the administration's statements from early 2003 as signs that Bush failed to give Americans an accurate picture of the financial impact the Iraq war would have.

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry listed the Wolfowitz quote, along with numerous other quotes and estimates from top Bush officials, in a news release last month titled, "Bush: Misleading America On True Cost of Iraq War."

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