Updated with video 11:00a.m. ET
Vice President Biden went further, albeit grudgingly, than President Obama did in his Tuesday night Oval Office address in crediting the surge of troops into Iraq ordered by President George W. Bush in January 2007 with providing the political space for Iraq to arrive at this moment in the country’s post-Saddam history.
Both President Obama and Vice President Biden opposed the surge at the time President Bush announced it, although both men also stated they had no doubt that the military would be successful in its mission to provide greater security.
“The president’s speech acknowledged President Bush’s contribution,” Vice President Biden told NewsHour senior Correspondent Margaret Warner in an interview in Baghdad Wednesday morning.
Warner went on to press Biden that acknowledging Mr. Bush’s contribution was not the same thing as crediting him with implementing a successful surge.
“If you really go back and take a look at this, you can argue the surge made possible what was the most significant thing that occurred — which was a political transition where we put over 100,000 Sunnis on the payroll — the sons of Iraq,” he said.
“Gen. Petraeus deserves a lot of credit and the last administration,” Biden added.
The vice president went on to say that he didn’t want to re-litigate the surge that it was “just time to move on.”
“If John Boehner or anybody else wants to say the surge did this. Fine, fine,” Biden said. “The fact of the matter is we’re not there yet. We’re making significant progress. The only time success will be able to be declared is when the Iraqis form a government and several years from now they are in a position to maintain their own security, they are not a threat to their neighbors, and their economy is growing and prospering. That’s when everyone can say it’s a success.”
Be sure to tune into the NewsHour Wednesday night where you can see much more of Margaret Warner’s in-depth interview including Vice President Biden’s take on both the deadline to withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq at the end of next year and on President Obama’s deadline to begin transitioning out of Afghanistan next summer.
OVER IN ALASKA
Seeing the writing on the wall, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski conceded the Republican primary to attorney Joe Miller on Tuesday night.
Murkowski trailed Miller by 1,668 votes at the start of the day, before the Alaska Division of Elections began counting more than 25,000 absentee and questioned ballots. But, after 17,000 were counted Tuesday, Murkowski had barely made a dent in Miller’s lead, picking up just 38 votes.
At her campaign headquarters in Anchorage on Tuesday night, Murkowski acknowledged the unlikelihood of making up her deficit with the remaining 8,000-plus votes left to be counted. “We know that we have outstanding votes to count in the primary, but based on where we are right now, I don’t see a scenario where the primary will turn out in my favor,” said Murkowski.
Murkowski did not say whether she would support Miller in the general election, where he will face Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams*, the winner of last Tuesday’s Democratic primary.
Miller told the Anchorage Daily News that he believes Murkowski will eventually endorse him. “I’m going to give her some time and we’re going to talk more about it later,” said Miller.
Two key factors in Miller’s surprise victory were the endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and the support of the Tea Party Express, which spent some $600,000 on the race.
Palin posted a note on Twitter Tuesday night to mark Miller’s victory: “Do you believe in miracles?! http://u.nu/72z2f Congratulations, @JoeWMiller! Thank you for your service, Sen. Murkowski. On to November!”
With the loss, Murkowski joins Utah Republican Bob Bennett and Pennsylvania Democrat Arlen Specter as the third Senate incumbent to lose in a primary this year.
Miller’s victory does little to impact the Republicans’ chances of holding onto the Senate seat in November, but Democrats may take a second look at the race to see if they can paint the GOP nominee as extreme based on his Tea Party support and certain policy positions.
Four other midterm developments you should not be without as you begin your Wednesday:
— Dan Balz of the Washington Post breaks down why something as benign sounding as the “generic congressional ballot” can crush Democratic Party spirits.
–More good news for Republicans from Gallup: In seven out of nine key election issues tested, American voters say they believe the GOP would do a better job handling those issues than would Democrats in Congress including the most important issues of the economy and jobs.
— Bud Chiles plans to drop his independent bid for governor of Florida Wednesday, which the Miami Herald plays up as a boon to Democrat Alex Sink’s candidacy:
— The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is changing traffic in Pennsylvania to add Social Security privatization into the mix of attacks against Republican Pat Toomey.
This comes on the heels of a Reuters/Ipsos poll out Tuesday showing a ten point lead for Toomey against Democrat Joe Sestak among likely voters.
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- An earlier version of this post misspelled McAdams’ name.