- The Washington Times - Friday, April 27, 2007

The ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee has called for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to resign his leadership post for saying the U.S. has lost the war in Iraq.

“This unfortunate statement is both inaccurate and damaging … [and] can have no effect but to demoralize the brave men and women who are honorably fulfilling their mission in Iraq,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter of California in a letter to Mr. Reid.

Mr. Hunter, an Army Ranger in the Vietnam War whose son, a Marine, is returning to Iraq for his third combat tour, wrote that his friendship with Mr. Reid is secondary to his obligation to the nation’s wartime military forces.

“In light of the fact that this statement has both been used by our adversaries and has exhibited a marked lack of leadership to U.S. troops, I call on you to resign your leadership position,” said Mr. Hunter, who is running for president.

Mr. Hunter added that Mr. Reid’s comments “will undoubtedly be used by terrorist leaders to rally their followers — inevitably leading to increased attacks on U.S. and coalition forces.”

A spokesman for Mr. Reid declined to respond directly about the letter.

“I’m not going to dignify that comment from a presidential wannabe,” Reid spokesman Jim Manley said yesterday.

Mr. Manley added that if Mr. Hunter is so concerned about winning the war in Iraq he should work with his own party to draft a workable solution instead of “lashing out” at the opposition.

Hunter spokesman Joe Kasper said yesterday that Mr. Reid hasn’t responded to the letter, which was sent Wednesday.

Mr. Reid’s “lost war” comment last week sparked sharp rebukes from Republicans on Capitol Hill and at the White House.

Vice President Dick Cheney held a rare Capitol Hill press conference Tuesday to criticize Mr. Reid for making “uninformed and misleading” statements about the war.

“What is most troubling about Mr. Reid’s comments … is his defeatism,” Mr. Cheney said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, called the comment “a mistake for the ages.”

And Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain has blasted Mr. Reid while campaigning.

“It seems to me Senator Reid has lost all sense of priority,” said Mr. McCain last week at a fundraiser at a Las Vegas casino.

During Thursday’s debate among Democratic presidential candidates in South Carolina, the first question moderator Brian Williams asked front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York was whether she agreed with Mr. Reid that the war was lost?

Mrs. Clinton, without directly answering the question, responded that the war “is not America’s war to win or lose.”

Mr. Hunter was chairman of the House Armed Services Committee from 2003 until the Democrats took control of the chamber in January. He has said he will give up his House seat when his term expires in 2008. His son, Duncan Duane, has filed to run for his father’s San Diego-area congressional seat.

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