- The Washington Times - Monday, May 31, 2004

Former Sen. Bob Dole yesterday said that while it appears President Bush has bet his career on the outcome of the war in Iraq, the ongoing terrorist attacks likely will help the president in the November election.

“When you see what happened [Saturday] in Saudi Arabia, that certainly plays into Bush’s hand,” said Mr. Dole, referring to the deadly machine gun attack by suspected Islamic militants on Western office compounds in the heart of the Saudi oil region.

“There is a global war on terror,” Mr. Dole said yesterday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” adding that the situation in Saudi Arabia “underscores what the president has been trying to tell us.”

However, the celebrated World War II veteran who was the Republican presidential candidate in 1996, also said it is “unfortunate that we’ve got a war going on in a presidential-election year.”

When asked by host Tim Russert whether Mr. Bush has bet his presidency on the outcome of the war in Iraq, Mr. Dole said: “I think so.”

“I don’t think he’s going to backpedal or change positions because it might cost him some votes,” the former senator from Kansas said. “I think he’s made the decision. He’s going to stick with it, and that’s the choice he should — that’s the choice I would make.”

Mr. Dole’s remarks came on a day highlighted by Saturday’s dedication of the National World War II Memorial on the Mall.

With the dedication dominating the news, pundits and politicians spent the morning trying to draw parallels to Iraq and debating the current war’s significance in November.

During another interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Mr. Dole said the situation in Iraq is “not like World War II.”

“You can find some similarities,” he said. “But the country is not united.”

That division was made clear when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, also appeared on “Meet the Press” and delivered an open criticism of the Iraq war.

“This was a war of choice that the administration went into, and we should have at least known the ground truths of what we were getting into,” she said of Iraq, which has claimed the lives of more than 800 U.S. troops since March 2003. “We send our troops in, and we say that they’re going to be greeted with rose petals, instead it’s rocket-propelled grenades.”

Her comments were backed by World War II veteran and former Sen. George McGovern, and former Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni, who headed U.S. Central Command in the Middle East before his retirement in 2000.

“There was no big hurry about plunging into Iraq. It’s been there for 6,000 years,” said Mr. McGovern, the South Dakota Democrat who lost the 1972 presidential election to Richard Nixon while opposing the war in Vietnam.

“I wish we’d taken a little more time to get the input of Congress under unhurried conditions, to get the input of other countries whose help we need and which we’re now seeking,” Mr. McGovern told Fox.

Gen. Zinni, appearing on CNN’s “Late Edition,” said most of the expectations and promises made going into the war have simply “not panned out.” He pinned the blame on the “civilian leadership in the Pentagon.”

Sen. Richard G. Lugar, meanwhile, said President Bush had “scored some points” last week with a speech stating clearly that sovereignty is being passed to the Iraqi people.

Appearing on Fox, Mr. Lugar, Indiana Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also said, “Diplomacy will be of the essence here so that Iraqis feel comfortable in taking sovereignty and also taking on the security which the United States armed forces and our allies can provide.”

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