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Inside Politics

Critics, supporters assess Bush speech


THE MORNING GRIND
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CNN's Bill Hemmer talks with pundits about Bush's speech.

CNN's Soledad O'Brien gets Joe Biden's take on the Bush speech.

CNN's John King breaks down President Bush's Iraq policy speech.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Critics on Tuesday said President Bush was short on specifics in his speech Monday night concerning the future of Iraq, but defenders said the details will be left for Iraqis to decide and the address showed the United States does have a plan for their future.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry -- in a written statement released just after the speech -- said President Bush "laid out general principles tonight, most of which we've heard before" on Iraq and the June 30 handover of power there. (The Bush speech: 'Difficult days' won't halt Iraq's progress)

Kerry challenged Bush "to genuinely reach out to our allies so the United States doesn't have to continue to go it alone and to create the stability necessary to allow the people of Iraq to move forward." (Kerry promotes energy plan)

Biden, Powell

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- Sen. Joseph Biden -- said President Bush left many questions unanswered about who will provide and pay for Iraq's security.

"He didn't say who's going to send more troops," Biden said.

"He didn't say who's going to pay more money. Now, maybe we're going to hear in the next speech that he has done what many of us have called for, that he's actually used presidential leadership, actually talked to the heads of heads of state, actually talked to Mr. Putin, actually talked to our allies, actually talked to NATO, actually got those heads of state on the phone and gotten actual commitments."

Biden, D-Delaware, said Bush should provide more details of how the U.S. will train 35,000 Iraqi soldiers.

"All his experts have said to him as well as me it would take three years to do that," Biden said. "He didn't say that he was going to take up France and Germany on their offer to train them in Europe. He didn't say he was going to speed up the training in Arab nations where Americans have trained Arab forces."

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell -- in a television interview Tuesday morning -- said the president's speech "put forward our comprehensive plan to return full sovereignty to the Iraqi people."

"This is what people have wanted, and they're going to see it on the 30th of June as the Coalition Provisional Authority comes to an end, and on the first of July when a new interim Iraqi government takes over," Powell said.

Chambliss, Mahmassani

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, said the speech wasn't intended to give "the details of any presidential plan or administration plan to provide for the future of the Iraqi people. What the president said all along is that the Iraqi people are going to decide that."

"His critics over the last several weeks have been saying the president has no plan," Chambliss said.

"Well, tonight he spelled out the plan we've been operating under and that we're going to move forward with to create an independent Iraq and turn the government of Iraq over to the Iraqi people."

"We started this for the right reasons," Chambliss said. "We're on the right track. It is a very, very difficult and complex track. But in order to get there, it is going to require the presence of Americans for probably a long time to come. You'll see us downsize, I hope, immediately. But it is still going require us to be there for a while to come."

Ambassador. Yahya Mahmassani of the League of Arab States said Bush's address was "essentially the same statement we have heard before, except now actually the speech gives a general outline."

"We didn't see any specifics," Mahmassani said. "We didn't see any timetable for the withdrawal of the American forces and I think essentially the situation in Iraq is getting from bad to worse."

Mahmassani said Bush should provide a better definition of what Iraqi sovereignty will be.

"There is no definition regarding the relationship between the multinational forces and the interim government," he said.

"Who exercises the authority? Who has the upper hand? Suppose the multinational forces under an American general order a military action and the interim government says no. Now who has the upper hand here?"


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