Continued from page 1

“There has been some legitimate concerns here for mistakes that were made, in particular by the previous secretary of defense, Don Rumsfeld,” said Republican state chairman Allen Weh, a war veteran. “But I would say the Republican base in this state is essentially in support of the president’s policies.”

Mr. Domenici’s emotional remarks about the war had just followed heart-wrenching meetings with parents of sons killed in the war, Mr. Weh said. “He’s a compassionate, kind man and nobody likes to see a body bag come home.”

“I’ve been in three wars, including Iraq, and I don’t like it, but you can’t go wobbly. I love my senator but he got wobbly, but I don’t think he will be voting with the cut-and-run crowd,” he said.

I asked Mr. Weh if the war is still raging this time next year, could the GOP lose a red state like his, which has been a hard-fought battleground in past presidential elections?

His answer: “Until you know who the candidates are, all bets are off.”

Donald Lambro, chief political correspondent of The Washington Times, is a nationally syndicated columnist.