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Some Democrats questioned Mr. Bush’s trip to Iraq, with Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat, calling it “more like a well-staged media event than a true investigative mission” and top party leaders saying the visit doesn’t constitute a plan for victory.

“I don’t even think we have a clear idea of what the mission is in Iraq,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. “The message to the Iraqi people has to be that they must have significant transition this year in taking responsibility for their government and for their security.”

Republicans seemed to welcome the debate among Democrats.

“I think this is a particularly bad time to send a message to the terrorists in Iraq that we might be thinking of running, just when they’re running,” said Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican.

The White House also said recent weeks prove why the Democrats’ amendment is a bad strategy.

“If we had pulled American troops out of Iraq in April, as some Democrats in Congress had advocated, then our troops wouldn’t have brought Zarqawi and many other terrorists to justice,” said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.