Bush previews speech for congressional leaders
DASCHLE: 'This president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war...'
WASHINGTON (CNN - 17 March) --After a White House briefing to congressional leaders on the president's television address to the nation Monday night, a senior congressman said President Bush would give Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave his country before the start of military action to remove him.
Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner said the president was resolute and had thought through "all the options." He said many of those present cast doubt on whether the Iraqi leader would take advantage of the final window before the United States would take military action to disarm Iraq.
In October, Congress passed a resolution authorizing the use of force, if necessary, against Iraq.
Among those present were Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle; House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican; Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Republican of Tennessee; and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat.
Anticipating that Bush would soon authorize a strike against Iraq -- accused of harboring weapons of mass destruction and defying U.N. resolutions to disarm -- many lawmakers began issuing statements in support of U.S. troops.
"It's time to come together and support our great American men and women in uniform and their commander-in-chief," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a contender for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. He has been among the most supportive in his party of a possible military strike against Iraq.
"If military action is necessary, the fault will clearly be Saddam Hussein's," Lieberman said. He urged other nations to "stand strong and together." But the Connecticut Democrat also faulted "the Bush administration's unilateralist, divisive foreign policy, which has pushed a lot of the world away."
Rep. Tom DeLay, a staunch supporter of the White House, called for an end to debate about how to proceed with Iraq, suggesting that lawmakers keep any thoughts of disagreement to themselves.
"There is a proper time and place for vigorous debate, but now is the time for America to speak with one voice," DeLay, a Republican of Texas, said in a statement. "In the weeks and months ahead, let us rededicate ourselves to our common mission, the defense of freedom."
But Daschle, who voted for the October resolution, lashed out at President Bush on Monday, saying he had "failed so miserably" at diplomacy in the crisis with Iraq that the United States now stands on the brink of war.
"I'm saddened," Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat, said in a speech to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
"Saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war. Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country. But we will work, and we will do all we can to get through this crisis like we've gotten through so many."