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From last night’s Special Report with Brit Hume:

On Iraq

FRED BARNES: Tony Snow said something that was very revealing about what the president’s going to do. He said, people want to know what is your plan of four winning?

Now, the president . . . believes in the war in Iraq. And he also is going to change his strategy. So what does that make you think? He’s going to have a strategy for winning, which means more troops.

I think this speech and the decision on this is probably the most important one in Bush’s second term because what’s going to happen here is he’s going to make one final big effort to win in Iraq, to secure Baghdad. It’s a new strategy. It’s not training Iraqi troops — that’s not the main focus. The main focus will be security. Secure Baghdad first and then Anbar province.

HUME: If this happens, it would appear to be over the serious objections of Casey and Abizaid . . . [W]ill this mean the end of Casey and Abizaid?

MICHAEL BARONE: Well, I think means some serious undercutting. I mean, one thing that we haven’t considered yet is that we’ve got the recommendations of this panel, General Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called into being back in September.

We do not know what they’re going to be, and they’re presumably going to go directly to the president. But they’re out of the chain of command, so their insertion here suggests that they lack confidence in the Abizaid-Casey strategy. So, I would say, yes, and it’s quite possible the new secretary of defense could do — determine that we should have another CENTCOM.

On Election 2008

BARONE: There’s a big issue here that wasn’t there in 2000. Who can protect the nation best? And I think for some of the followers of the Christian conservative group, some of the rank and file, that issue is going to trump the issue of . . . abortion.

BARNES: Even among Christian conservatives that they’ll hold their nose and vote for a guy who they think can win, whether that’s Giuliani, who’s drawing huge crowds this fall when appeared for Republicans or whether it’s John McCain. I happen to think the candidate that you really have to watch, assuming he gets in the race, is Newt Gingrich who is certainly pro-life and is very attractive to conservative Republicans.

NRO Staff — Members of the National Review Online editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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