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Boehner Challenges Obama's Role in Iraq Troop Drawdown

Ahead of President Obama's live national address on the Iraq war next Tuesday, House Republican Leader John Boehner is making the case that the president does not deserve credit for the winding down of the war.

Mr. Obama will deliver a televised speech in primetime to mark the day the American combat role in Iraq formally comes to an end. Starting September 1, the U.S. mission in Iraq shifts from combat to support of Iraqi security forces. The president may note in his speech that some 94,000 troops have left Iraq since he took office.

Boehner, meanwhile, is slated to give a previously-planned speech on the Iraq war on the same day at the American Legion's national convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In what may be a preview of his remarks next week, Boehner penned an op-ed for the conservative magazine Human Events in which he emphasizes that Mr. Obama in 2007, along with other Democratic leaders, opposed the troop "surge" in Iraq that many credit for helping stabilize Iraq.

"While the administration continues seeking credit for 'ending the combat mission' in Iraq, it is important to remember that this transition was made possible by the very surge that President Obama and Vice President Biden opposed," Boehner wrote. "With all due respect to them, our troops who have served so courageously in Iraq deserve the credit for the success of the surge and, along with the Iraqi people, the turnaround in Iraq."

In spite of Mr. Obama's opposition to the surge, Boehner said he commends the president for listening to commanders in the field and other key players while in office.

"I'm sure glad President Obama didn't listen to Sen. Obama," Boehner wrote. "Iraq is critical to our immediate and long-term national security interests, and we must protect the economic, political, and security progress that has been made."

The minority leader also released a web video today that shows Mr. Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader criticizing the surge in 2007.

While U.S. troops are leaving Iraq, violence continues in the country. On Wednesday, bombers and gunmen killed at least 50 people in an apparently coordinated string of attacks against Iraqi government forces.

A CBS News poll released yesterday shows that most Americans believe the war is going well for the United States, but nearly six in 10 say it was a mistake to start the battle in the first place. Most also say their country did not accomplish its objectives in Iraq.

Boehner's address on Tuesday will the second time in recent days he has posed a major challenge to the president; on Tuesday, he called on Mr. Obama to fire his economic team.

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