Three retired generals challenged a dozen members of Congress in a new ad campaign Wednesday, saying the politicians can't expect to win re-election if they support President Bush's policies in Iraq.
"I am outraged, as are the majority of Americans. I'm a lifelong Republican, but it's past time for change," retired Maj. Gen. John Batiste told reporters.
"Our strategy in Iraq today is more of the same, a slow grind to nowhere which totally ignores the reality of Iraq and the lessons of history," Batiste said. "Our president ignores sound military advice and surrounds himself with like-minded and compliant subordinates."
Batiste and Paul Eaton, also a retired major general, are featured in the ads by VoteVets.org. They challenge the president's argument that he listens to his commanders on the ground in Iraq and say the president's Iraq policies endanger U.S. security.
"The fact is, the president has never listened to the soldiers on the ground effectively," said retired NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark, who ran for president in 2004. "This administration is not listening to the troops and is not supporting them."
Other veterans promoted the campaign at a news conference in Manchester, the start of a six-state publicity tour targeting Republican Sens. John Sununu of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine, Norm Coleman of Minnesota and John Warner of Virginia, plus nine House members.
Many in the group, including Sununu, have criticized various aspects of administration policy, but all have opposed legislation to establish a timetable for withdrawing American troops.
"Telling members of al Qaeda, militias or insurgent groups the date we will begin and end troop withdrawals is irresponsible," Sununu said.
Separately in Manchester, about a dozen peace activists staged a sit-in at Sununu's office to oppose the war. They read the names of 22 New Hampshire troops who died in Iraq. They also stood around a pile of shoes. Attached to each pair was the name of an Iraqi killed in the conflict. Outside, about 30 protesters waved signs.
When VoteVets.org ran ads in February, Sununu said critics of the war have every right to speak out, "but no group or individual should claim to speak for all the patriotic Americans serving in Iraq and around the world in our armed forces."
The House members targeted by the new ads are Mary Bono of California, Phil English of Pennsylvania, Randy Kuhl and James Walsh of New York, Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri, Timothy Johnson of Illinois, Mike Rogers and Fred Upton of Michigan and Michael Castle of Delaware.
English's spokeswoman, Julia Wanzco, fired back.
"The congressman has long stated that he is for a political settlement not a surge, and at the end of the day, these ads are more about cheap Democratic political stunts than about solving the actual problem," she said.