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Iraq Transition

White House disputes Iraq as 'worst mistake'

Story Highlights

• White House spokesman says war was needed to oust Saddam Hussein
• Tony Snow notes majority of senators authorized Bush to take action
• Senate majority leader calls Iraq war a worse mistake than Vietnam war
• Harry Reid says U.S. in "very deep hole" and needs to get out of it
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House on Sunday disagreed with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's claim that the Iraq war was "the worst foreign policy mistake" in U.S. history.

White House press secretary Tony Snow said it was important to remove Saddam Hussein from power and noted that a majority of senators voted in 2002 to authorize the use of force in Iraq.

He said President Bush should not see votes in Congress in opposition of his new Iraqi strategy as a rebuke.

"The strategy has barely had a chance to begin working," Snow said.

The House passed a nonbinding resolution Friday that rejected the president's 21,500-troop buildup in Iraq. The vote put Bush on the defensive going into a far more consequential confrontation over paying for the plan.

On Saturday, Senate Republicans foiled a Democratic bid to repudiate Bush's deployment of additional combat troops. The 56-34 vote fell four short of the 60 needed, but Democrats quickly claimed victory, noting that a majority of senators voted against the escalation.

"This war is a serious situation," Reid said Saturday. "It involves the worst foreign policy mistake in the history of this country. ... We find ourselves in a very deep hole. We need to find a way to dig out of it." (Full story)

Snow disagreed.

"The war is tough, but the solution is not to get out. It is to provide the kinds of resources and reinforcements our forces need to get the job done, and at the same time say to the Iraqis `You guys got to step up,"' Snow responded.

He said the president understands the importance of debate about the war on Capitol Hill and understands lawmakers' anxiety about the war.

"What I would say to members of Congress is: Calm down and take a look at what's going on, and ask yourself a simple question: If you support the troops, would you deny them the reinforcements they think are necessary to complete the mission?"'

Snow cited surveys that showed a majority of Americans do not want Congress to cut the purse strings for the war.

Snow appeared on "Late Edition" on CNN.

White House spokesman Tony Snow says war was important to get Saddam Hussein out of power in Iraq.



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