COMMENTS: Surge for the Surge

Even if the general's testimony was not partisan, as he insisted, its impact has been. "Petraeus solidified the base for George Bush on the Republican side," judged NBC's Tim Russert. On Capitol Hill CBS' Chip Reid noted that the problem for Senate Democrats is that "they cannot pass anything without Republican support and Petraeus' testimony convinced many wavering Republicans to give his strategy more time." Approval for Bush's surge in NBC's poll has risen in the past two months largely on the basis of "conservative Republicans coming back to the fold," as Russert put it.

While Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama made a troops out speech--"We have to begin to end this war now"--his rival on the Republican side John McCain was launching a three-state No Surrender tour in his No Surrender bus. Even as Bush prepares to announce that the troop surge will be over by next July, ABC's John Berman (subscription required) obtained an internal campaign memo instructing McCain to "take ownership of the surge." A few months ago, Berman observed, some political insiders had written off McCain's campaign--"his bank account was dwindling; his campaign staff declining"--but now "there are signs this new message may be working." Berman cited an ABC poll that showed McCain at 18% among Republicans (Rudolph Giuliani 28%, Fred Thompson 19%). NBC's poll (McCain 14% v Giuliani 32%, Thompson 26%) was not nearly as McCain-friendly.

NBC's Russert (at the tail of his Iraq War videostream) added one more tidbit. His poll surveyed partisans to find out their comfort level with Presidential candidates from the opposing party. He came up with the match-ups that would be most polarizing (Rodham Clinton vs Romney) and most consensual (Obama vs Giuliani).


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