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Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Three '08 hopefuls take advantage of Senate Armed Services Committee seat
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate Armed Services committee hearing on Iraq Wednesday was a chance for three potential White House hopefuls to showcase their tough talk on the war torn country as they consider their political futures.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Indiana, all sit on the committee and were highly critical of the Administration's policies Wednesday.

"Hope is not a strategy," Clinton said. "Hortatory talk about what the Iraqi government must do is getting old. I mean I have heard over and over again that the government must do this, the Iraqi army must do that. Nobody disagrees with that. The brutal fact is it is not happening."

McCain, who has long called for more troops to be sent to Iraq, sharply criticized Gen. John Abizaid's belief that current troop levels are sufficient.

"[The situation] is not encouraging to those of us who have heard time after time that things are progressing well, that we are making progress etc. because we are hearing from many other sources that that's not the case." McCain told Abizaid. "I am disappointed that you are advocating the status quo here today which I think that the American people said in the last election is not an acceptable condition for the American people."

Bayh expressed doubt the Iraqi military is able to secure the war torn country.

"We look at the functioning of the government in Iraq and I have to tell you too often they appear to be operating as members of their tribe, or their sect, or their ethnic group first rather than as Iraqi's first," the Indiana Democrat said. "I mean they say the right things, but when the going gets tough and they have to make the right decisions they sort of retreat in their corner and they're just not able to find their common ground. I find that troubling."

A Senate Armed Service Committee seat offers the three senators a prominent pulpit from which they will repeatedly espouse their views on the divisive issue heading into 2008.

-- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
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