President Obama is holding an unscheduled huddle this afternoon with Senate Democrats, trying to quell a rebellion in the ranks over his Iraq plan he is expected to unveil Friday.
At Camp Lejeune, the huge Marine base in North Carolina, Obama is widely expected to confirm plans for a withdrawal by August 2010, though as many as 52,000 of the 142,000 troops now in Iraq could remain and some could retain combat roles.
"I have been one for a long time who has called for significant cutbacks in Iraq," Harry Reid of Nevada, the top Senate Democrat, told reporters. "Iím happy to listen to the secretary of defense and the president but when they talk about 50,000, thatís a little higher number than I anticipated."
The senators, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are questioning whether 50,000 is too many to actually "end the war," as Obama promised.
Some liberal critics have already been raising concerns about the 19-month timetable -- three months longer than what Obama pledged during the campaign.
In an CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll last week, 67 percent of Americans said they opposed the Iraq war, up slightly from December, and 69 percent supported removing most troops, while Americans were evenly divided whether the United States is "winning."
In the same survey, however, 63 percent favored Obama's plan to send 17,000 more troops this spring to Afghanistan, though a majority oppose the war. Also, only 31 percent said the US is winning the war in Afghanistan, though 62 percent said the US can win.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.