In Hailing End of Iraqi Combat Mission, Democrats Praise Obama, While Republicans Nod to Bush

By Susan Jones | August 20, 2010 | 11:06 AM EDT

U.S. Army Sgt. Jason Thompson, left, and Lt. Col. Nate Flegler, right, wave to one of the last Stryker armored vehicles to leave Iraq as it crosses the border into Kuwait on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo)

( – In statements hailing the end of combat operations in Iraq, Democrat leaders gave some of the credit to President Obama, while Republican leaders mentioned Bush administration policies that made the day possible.
Both sides thanked U.S. troops for their service and pledged continued support for those coming home and those left behind.
"The transition of the mission in Iraq from a combat to an advisory role has only been made possible by the hard work, dedication and unflinching bravery of our men and women in uniform," House Republican leader John Boehner said in a news release on Thursday.
Boehner also tipped his hat to the Bush administration: “By taking the fight to al-Qaeda, other terrorist threats, and the insurgency, our armed forces succeeded in providing greater security to the Iraqi population and giving the government the time to build capacity to more effectively meet the needs of the Iraqi people. As a result, the drawdown of U.S. troops that began under the previous administration has been able to continue." 
Boehner noted that "many challenges lie ahead," and he said the U.S. must commit to ensuring stability and security in Iraq.
Likewise, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), chairman of the House Republican Conference, hailed U.S. troops for achieving the security that has paved the way for Iraqi democracy.
"That progress was due in large part to our military’s effective execution of the surge strategy," he wrote. (The Bush administration implemented the troop surge in Iraq, although Pence did not mention Bush by name.)
“The brave men and women of the U.S. military deserve our honor and gratitude,” Pence said. “We celebrate with those returning home to loved ones and we continue to pray for those who remain in Iraq. We also remember the brave troops who gave the ultimate sacrifice while fighting in the War on Terror in Iraq.”
Obama’s promise fulfilled
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine hailed the "historic" departure of the last combat brigade from Iraq, calling it "evidence that the President (Obama) has fulfilled his promise to the American people to bring combat operations in Iraq to an end."
Since Obama took office "and implemented his plan for drawing down the number of troops in Iraq, 90,000 American service members have left Iraq," Kaine said. As for the 50,000 American service members who remain in Iraq to advise and assist the Iraqi security forces – “they and their families will have the full support of the President,” Kaine said.
“In addition to bringing American troops home, the President’s successful plan for ending combat operations in Iraq has allowed this Administration to dedicate more resources toward fighting the terrorist organizations that threaten American safety.  As a result, American families are now safer and more secure. The President has fulfilled his promises to the American people – ending combat operations in Iraq and protecting our country," Kaine concluded.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's statement included a single reference to President Obama for keeping his "promise" to end combat operations in Iraq.
She hailed U.S. troops for doing all that was asked of them and she remembered those who died on the battlefield. Pelosi said with 50,000 troops left behind in Iraq, Congress will "continue to conduct oversight of all operations to ensure a complete withdrawal in a safe and timely manner."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, blogging in The Hill newspaper, saluted U.S. troops for the "heroism, courage and dignity that they have displayed since the beginning of this conflict."
Reid noted that the troop withdrawal does not end U.S. involvement in Iraq, and he said the troops who remain behind "will continue to face serious threats on a daily basis.”
Reid's only mention of Obama came in connection with the challenges posed by the war in Afghanistan:
"President Obama and his national security leadership team have put in place a plan that has already yielded some positive results in Afghanistan, and I will continue to work with the President to ensure that he has the necessary support to protect our nation and that our troops can be successful in their mission."
The Democratic National Committee on Friday was circulating an op-ed in the Washington Post, in which liberal columnist Eugene offered evidence of President Obama’s “genuine winning streak.”
Look what Obama has accomplished in the past few weeks, Robinson wrote – and he pointed first to the end of the combat mission in Iraq. Obama, Robinson wrote, “did as well as anyone could have with the situation he inherited.”