AC360° Digital Producer
(CNN) – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has no comment on a passage in former President George W. Bush’s recently released book that led a local newspaper to criticize McConnell for excessive partisanship.
In his new memoir, “Decision Points,” Bush writes that McConnell came to the Oval Office in September 2006, with the midterm elections fast approaching. McConnell told Bush that his unpopularity was going to cost the GOP control of Congress, the 43rd president writes in the book. When Bush asked for McConnell’s advice, the Kentucky senator told Bush he should withdraw some troops from Iraq, according to the memoir.
“He was not alone,” Bush writes of McConnell’s suggestion. “As violence in Iraq escalated, members of both parties had called for a pullout.”
The former president adds, “I made it clear I would set troop levels to achieve victory in Iraq, not victory at the polls.”
In an editorial published online Thursday, the Louisville Courier-Journal pointed to the passage in Bush’s book as evidence of McConnell’s penchant for partisanship.
“This incident, which Sen. McConnell's office has not denied, shines brightly on the contemptible hypocrisy and obsessive partisanship that have come to mark the senator's time in office,” the paper’s editorial says.
The editorial adds, “Unless he is prepared to call a former president of his own party a liar, Mr. McConnell has a choice. He can admit that he did not actually believe the Iraq mission was vital to American security, regardless of what he said at the time. Or he can explain why the fortunes of the Republican Party are of greater importance than the safety of the United States.”
In a written statement e-mailed to CNN, McConnell’s office refused to comment on Bush’s book. But the statement emphasized that McConnell has always supported full funding for American troops and giving Bush’s top military commander in Iraq sufficient time to execute a counterinsurgency strategy in the troubled country.
“Senator McConnell does not comment on any advice he may have given the President on improving the President’s political standing,” the statement reads. “But the public record is clear on his unwavering support for ensuring that our troops in the field were fully funded, and that General Petraeus was able to execute a counterinsurgency strategy on the ground in Iraq free of arbitrary deadlines for withdrawal even when it was politically unpopular to do so.”
–AC360° Joneil Adriano contributed to this report.
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