House GOP leader John Boehner said on Friday the administration is taking credit for ending the combat mission in Iraq, but that it's the troop surge — which President Obama opposed as a senator — that made it possible.
Previewing a speech he'll give on Iraq next week, the Ohio Republican published an op-ed on the conservative Human Events website and released a Web video that credits the troops and the 2007 troop "surge" for turning around the security situation — and ultimately allowing the withdrawal of combat troops. Boehner argued that Democrats, such as Obama, then-Sen. Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who argued against the surge at the time, were "on the wrong side of history."
The video splices comments from high-profile Democrats expressing skepticism over the surge.
Obama and Boehner have clashed for the last few weeks over the economy, but the Republican leader is looking to transition to the Iraq war, at least for the next few days. His office said it will continue to highlight the contrast between the GOP and Democrats on the war.
Boehner's office is also working to get its message out against Obama, who will deliver a major prime-time address on the Iraq war from the Oval Office on Tuesday.
The Republican leader will speak at the American Legion's national convention in Milwaukee, Wis., earlier on the same day.
Obama is expected to express gratitude to U.S. forces, note that he kept his campaign promise for a "responsible" withdrawal of U.S. troops and will put the war in the broader context of the country's national security goals.
The GOP and Democrats are grappling over the Iraq war narrative after a major drawdown of troops that began last week. Fewer than 50,000 troops remain in the country, the lowest number since the beginning of the war in 2003 under former President George W. Bush.
Vice President Joe Biden spoke about the war in a speech before a veterans group this week, stressing the importance of the end of combat operations but also saying that the U.S. will be involved in Iraq in the long term.