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Democrats Greet Testimony With Skepticism

As Gen. David Petraeus was waiting for a working microphone in order to testify about Iraq before a House committee on Monday, the John Edwards campaign was already commenting on the hearing.

"It's been reported that General Petraeus may propose the withdrawal of a single brigade by the end of the year in exchange for keeping the failed surge going another six months," the former senator said in a statement released at 1:13 p.m., before the testimony began.

Other presidential candidates waited until after Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker began to speak before weighing in. But the results were no less canned. Dividing largely along partisan lines, Democrats dismissed the importance of the Petraeus report while Republicans embraced it as evidence the so-called troop "surge" is working.

"Today, General Petraeus provided the first look at a strategy that is getting results and an Iraq that is making progress," former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said. "This is only the beginning, which is why we need to continue to listen to the assessment of General Petraeus and others on the ground so we can decide the best course of action going forward."

Sen. Chris Dodd issued a statement that read: "The fact that there are questions about General Petraeus' report is not surprising given that it was brought to you by this White House. In contrast, independent report after report indicates that the whack-a-mole strategy has made this the bloodiest summer of the war."

Anti-war efforts became a focal point of the political debate, as Moveon.org took out a full-page ad in the New York Times asking whether Petraeus weren't really "General Betray Us." Sen. John McCain condemned the ad as a "McCarthyite attack" on the general.

"General Petraeus is a straight shooter," Romney, a candidate for president, said in a statement posted online Monday morning. "Like the men he commands, he is risking his life to protect our freedoms here at home. We should not prejudge him or his testimony, or give him anything less than the full respect he deserves."

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who sits on the Senate Armed Services and will have an opportunity to ask Petraeus questions during his appearance there on Tuesday, did not comment publicly on the first day of testimony. Nor did Sen. Barack Obama, who is giving an address on Iraq in Davenport, Iowa on Wednesday. But Obama's office released a statement that said: "Changing the definition of success to stay the course with the wrong policy is the wrong course for our troops and our national security."

--Anne E. Kornblut

By Post Editor  |  September 10, 2007; 5:36 PM ET
 
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