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THE NATION

Pelosi and White House in war of words over Iraq

January 20, 2007|James Gerstenzang | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — With barely a nod to the bipartisan civility they have saluted since the last election, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a White House spokeswoman traded sharp language Friday over President Bush's Iraq policy.

"He has to answer for his war. He has dug a hole so deep he can't even see the light on this. It's a tragedy. It's a stark blunder," said Pelosi, a Democrat from San Francisco.

"The president knows that because the troops are in harm's way, that we won't cut off the resources. That's why he's moving so quickly to put them in harm's way," she said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Bush has said he will put additional forces in Iraq, an effort largely aimed at stopping the sectarian violence in Baghdad. Some Democrats have said Congress should block Bush's plan by eliminating funding for the troop increase.

Deputy White House Press Secretary Dana Perino called Pelosi's comments "poisonous" and decried a "sound-bite war" emanating from Capitol Hill.

"Speaker Pelosi was arguing, in essence, that the president is putting young men and women in harm's way for tactical, political reasons. And she's questioning his motivations rather than questioning his policies," Perino said at the daily White House news briefing.

The exchange highlighted the difficulty the new Democratic leadership and the White House have faced in adhering to promises to stop the partisan quarreling that was common before the November election.

Pelosi, when asked whether she was saying that Bush deliberately timed the dispatch of troops so that Congress could not intervene, said, "I would certainly hope he didn't manipulate the timing of sending the troops in."

james.gerstenzang@

latimes.com

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