President Bush used blunt language Tuesday to make it clear that there's no way he'll sign the latest version of the war funding bill, now headed for passage, which still sets a timetable for a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller reports.
"It makes no sense to tell the enemy when you start to plan withdrawing," Mr. Bush said. "If we were to do so, the enemy would simply mark their calendars and begin plotting to take over the country when we leave."
In a statement to reporters, Mr. Bush said the American people did not vote for failure in Iraq — but that's precisely what the Democratic bill would guarantee.
"I'm disappointed that the Democratic leadership has chosen this course," Mr. Bush said. "They chose to make a political statement. That's their right, but it is wrong for our troops and it's wrong for our country. To accept the bill proposed by the Democratic leadership would be to accept a policy that directly contradicts the judgment of our military commanders."
House and Senate Democratic appropriators agreed Monday on a $124 billion bill that would fund the Iraq war but order troops to begin leaving by Oct. 1 with the goal of completing the pullout six months later. Democrats would need a two-thirds majority to override a presidential veto.
Democrats said they won't back down and pointed to past remarks by Gen. David Petraeus, the new Iraq commander, that security in Iraq requires a political solution.
, D-Nev., who said last week that the war in Iraq is "lost," likened Mr. Bush to President Lyndon Johnson, saying Johnson ordered troop escalations in Vietnam in an attempt "to save his political legacy" only to watch U.S. casualties climb steadily.
Reid said Democrats have sought Republican support for their attempts to force the president to change course. "Only the president is the odd man out, and he is making the task even harder by demanding absolute fidelity from his party."
He said Mr. Bush was in a "state of denial" about the situation in Iraq.
Mr. Bush said U.S. troops should not be caught in the middle of a showdown between the White House and Congress.
"Yesterday, Democratic leaders announced that they planned to send me a bill that will fund our troops only if we agree to handcuff our generals, add billions of dollars of unrelated spending and begin to pull out of Iraq by an arbitrary date," Mr. Bush said in the Rose Garden.
He said the bill would mandate the withdrawal of U.S. troops beginning as early as July 1 and no later than Oct. 1, despite the fact that Petraeus has not yet received all the reinforcements he has said he needs to help secure Baghdad and the troubled Anbar Province.
"It's not too late for Congress to do the right thing," Mr. Bush said.