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Gen. Comes to Hill
With Strong Support
From GOP Hopefuls

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney came to the defense of Gen. David Petraeus today, calling "outrageous" an ad by liberal group that refers to "General Betray Us."

"General Petraeus is a straight shooter," Romney, a candidate for president, said in a statement posted online this 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."

Romney's full-throated support for Petraeus is further evidence that the Republican candidates for president are counting on the general to back up their support for the president's war policy.

On the stump, all of the leading GOP candidates are backing the surge announced at the beginning of the year. That was on display at last week's Fox debate, when Arizona Sen. John McCain chided Romney for hedging, and declared the tactic "is working...Not 'apparently.' It's working,"

McCain plans to go on a "no surrender" tour during the next week, embracing his long-time support for the war as the tool for his political resurrection after Petraeus reports to Congress.

Like Romney, McCain also attacked the ad on Petraeus. "This is a man who has devoted his life in service to our nation and has defended America in many battles over many years. Now he is the target of a despicable attack in one our nation's most visible newspapers," he said in a statement today. "No matter where you stand on the war, we should all agree on the character and decency of this exceptional American."

Sounding a note similar to McCain's support of the war, GOP hopeful Fred Thompson told reporters that the surge is working and that continuing the war is "just the right thing to do and I feel very strongly about it."

That Republicans are wrapping their arms around the general provides a sharp contrast to their Democratic rivals, who -- while not going as far as -- have criticized Petraeus and his report, which he gives to the U.S. House today.

Unless Petraeus says something surprising, the GOP candidates are likely to continue to express their support: in a Washington Post/ABC poll released yesterday, a majority of Republicans say the surge has already made the situation in Iraq better; two-thirds say they believe America is "making significant progress" in Iraq; and three-quarters say the surge will improve security going forward.

By Washington Post editors  |  September 10, 2007; 12:30 PM ET
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