Iraqi Prime Minister, In Visit To Washington, Echoes Bush Campaign Themes
Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi addressed Congress and appeared with President Bush during his visit to Washington, DC. The Iraqi leader thanked America for deposing Saddam Hussein, portrayed the struggle to defeat insurgents in his country as part of the broader war on terror and said elections, even if not "perfect," would take place in January as planned. In addition, as USA Today reports this morning, Allawi was "unyielding in his support of Bush, echoing the president's optimism." The Los Angeles Times notes that the Primer Minister's "upbeat remarks Thursday echoed both in tone and content key themes of Bush's reelection campaign." The New York Times adds that "it was clear that Dr. Allawi's visit to Washington was not simply a trip by a head of government but a politically charged moment in the presidential campaign." Bush "in turn used his 47-minute appearance with Dr. Allawi to implicitly criticize what his campaign has called" Sen. Kerry's many flip-flops on Iraq, although the president did not use Mr. Kerry's name. The president said people who sent a 'mixed signal' on Iraq could embolden terrorists."
CNN's Inside Politics also focused on the effect Allawi's visit on the US presidential campaign, saying that the Iraqi leader "provided backup for George W. Bush's claim of progress in Iraq and a rebuttal to criticism from John Kerry," adding that "everything that you heard and you saw from the president and the Iraqi interim prime minister was focused on rebutting these newly focused charges from John Kerry that President Bush made an incorrect decision to go to war in Iraq at that time and in his words really made inept decisions after going to war." MSNBC's Hardball, meanwhile, noted Allawi "was very clear, both in his address to Congress, and in the White House about doubters and skeptics. He sent them a message, at one point saying that the political leaders who sound the sirens of defeatism embolden the terrorists. Clearly, the President's campaign has said that Kerry is someone who is preaching retreat and defeat. This was a message from Allawi today that that type of talk emboldened terrorists."
All three networks led their evening newscast with Allawi's visit, and offered a largely skeptical response to the Prime Minister's generally optimistic claims. ABC World News Tonight asked, "Did he paint an accurate picture on what's going on in Iraq? Or was he just putting the best face on a bad situation?," adding the visit was "an election year political gift for President Bush." The CBS Evening News said the setting for the Bush-Allawi appearance was "the Rose Garden, but it could have been a campaign stop." The NBC Nightly News said "Allawi's claims that many Iraqi cities are now secure and the western media are overemphasizing the violence don't match what others are seeing and experiencing in Iraq." Reporting from an Iraqi café, the newscast noted that Iraqis there "were skeptical of their prime minister's speech."