Democrats and Republicans have been largely at odds over U.S. policy in Iraq.
While President Bush
touted successes in Iraq, Democrats in Washington presented a sharply different view -- criticizing Republicans for spearheading a policy that remains largely unpopular
, even after the death of al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Democratic Sens. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) and Joe Biden (D-Delaware) waited until Bush left Iraq, to which he staged a surprise visit this morning, before making their comments. Some, like Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan), focused more on strategy and the prospect of troop reductions and "phased redeployments."
But other Democrats didn't hold back.
In remarks on the House floor, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Illinois) claimed the GOP-led Congress had "cut and run from its oversight responsibility" -- saying it failed to provide enough troops, account for its high price tag, or properly assess and respond to the insurgency.
"Oversight requires the vigilance and patriotic determination of every member of Congress," said Emanuel, who is leading the Democrats efforts to retake control of the House. "It's time for new priorities in Iraq."
Sen. John Kerry offered a cautious, albeit skeptical comments to reporters
, but unloaded on the Bush administration in an address to the liberal Campaign for America's Future group.
"War is no excuse for its own perpetuation," said Kerry, drawing parallels with the Vietnam War. "And a war in Iraq founded on a lie can never be true to America's character."
The office of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) quickly and vigorously challenged Kerry and defended the Bush administration, issuing a press statement entitled, "John Kerry's Democrats Fail to Grasp What's At Stake In Iraq."
The statement accused Kerry of reversing course in now calling for a withdrawal of U.S. troops by year's end, criticizing Bush while the president was "on the ground in Baghdad" and saying the senator's "misguided plan comes at a critical time for the future of Iraq."