U.S. Rep. David Davis says continuing Democratic resolutions challenging President George W. Bush's authority to manage the situation in Iraq send the "wrong message" to both troops and those who want to do harm to America.
Davis, R-Tenn., made the comments during a taping of "Legislative Chat," a public affairs talk show produced for public television by East Tennessee State University.
"There's one commander in chief," Davis said of Bush. "There's not 535 commanders in chief (in Congress), and there's not 100 of those being senators. Our Constitution is set up to give the president the commander in chief title for a reason. We need to make sure we protect our troops. Anytime we start to debate these resolutions on the House floor or on the Senate floor, we're sending the wrong message to two groups - the troops there protecting our interests and protecting our homeland, and secondly we're sending the wrong message to the terrorists."
Davis again insisted the Iraq conflict is part of the War on Terror.
"This is not a war with Iraq. This is a War on Terror with people who hate us. They are sitting over there listening. If it looks like the Congress is getting ready to pull out and let us fail, it will embolden them to the point that it will put Americans in danger in the future," he said. "I hope we get to the point that the American people understand how important what we are doing is. The national media tries to make this President Bush's war on Iraq. It isn't President Bush's war on Iraq. This war started a long, long time ago. ... We can talk about pulling out. We can talk about leaving. ... The reality is we're either going to fight it over there or fight it over here."
When asked how he would rate Bush's job performance in the War on Terror, Davis acknowledged the president has probably made some mistakes.
"But he is a man of character," Davis said of the president. "He is a man of honor. I've been with him. This is something that weighs heavy on his heart. I don't think there is a morning that he gets up that he is not thinking about protecting American citizens, and I don't think there is a night that he goes to bed that he is not thinking about the same thing. This is all about his presidency."
Davis said Bush should be able to have a rational dialogue with Congress about Iraq.
"This shouldn't be partisan at all. This shouldn't be political at all. This is about survivability of civilization in my mind. ... We can't afford to fail," Davis said.
Davis, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he has been told by Middle East leaders that America is doing a better job protecting the homeland, but they noted it only takes one person with "evil intent in their heart" to cause damage.
"We've got our foot on a land mine around the world, especially in the Middle East, and the pressure is on," Davis said. "If we let that pressure off too much it's going to explode. Terrorism will explode. We haven't seen anything like we would see in the future if we don't continue to make sure we understand that we've got to win this war. (Former President) Ronald Reagan said ‘In war you've got two options: We win. They lose.' That's really where we want to be. ... (But) when do we declare victory? I'm not sure how you declare victory. ... I can tell you how we declare failure. ... If you told me ‘Just hold on until November 1 (and) I'll pull out.' I would just wait until November 2. ... (Terrorists) have people who not only are willing to blow themselves up, they are willing to blow their offspring up."
Davis also maintained that despite voting against early key Democratic-pushed bills like a minimum wage increase and a resolution opposing a troop surge in Iraq, he works well with other Democratic members in his Tennessee delegation of lawmakers.
House Republicans are in the minority, and Davis came out of a GOP minority caucus in the Tennessee legislature on his way to Congress.
"I can tell you there was a lot more control given by the speaker of the House (Jimmy Naifeh) in Nashville. He had a iron fist on the Tennessee legislature. ... It's not that way in Washington. Quite frankly, we get along very well," Davis said.
Davis also contrasted his leadership style with his predecessor, retired U.S. Rep. William L. "Bill" Jenkins, who was known for being a low-key lawmaker.
"He had his style," Davis said of Jenkins. "I have my style. When I first was elected as a state legislator I saw how closed government was. I decided the best thing you could do for our society in the future is open it up."
"Legislative Chat" is scheduled to air on WETP-TV, Channel 2, at 11 p.m. Sunday.
For more about Davis go to www.daviddavis.house.gov.