Republican Congressman Jim Ramstad (MN-03) joined 10 of his fellow GOP Congressmen in a meeting at the White House earlier this week to discuss the war in Iraq with President Bush along with members of his cabinet (Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice) and his political advisers.
Ramstad’s delegation voiced their frustration with the Iraqi government’s performance as well the administration’s current Iraq war policy. The members expressed concerns that the administration has contingency plans if the recent surge in U.S troops fails. One political concern expressed by the Congressmen, some of whom represent moderate, swing districts, is that the Iraq issue continues to damage the Republican Party (a concern echoed this week by Republican presidential candidate John McCain). For example, White House meeting attendees Mark Kirk (IL-10) and Charlie Dent (PA-15) won their 2006 races by just 6 points and 9 points respectively. In total, 35 House Republicans won their races by 10 points or less last November, and the GOP can ill-afford to lose any more ground in next year’s House elections.
In February of this year Minnesota’s Ramstad joined 16 other GOP Congressmen when the House passed a resolution disapproving of Bush’s decision to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.