BRISTOL, Tenn. — House GOP Whip Roy Blunt indicated Tuesday that outgoing U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, whose resignation was announced by the Bush administration Monday, was a victim of a Democrat-controlled Congress.
Blunt spoke to more than 100 Republicans at a $100-per-couple fund-raiser for U.S. Rep. David Davis, R-1st District, at the Old Custom House.
“I think like a lot of the folks that came to Washington with (President Bush) from Texas, he was surprised to find out how tough a town Washington can be,” Blunt, a Missouri Republican, said before the fund-raiser concerning Gonzales, who resigned amid a Senate probe over fired U.S. attorneys. “I think he particularly was disadvantaged by this emphasis in the new Congress on wanting to constantly interrogate everybody about everything, and I think that distracted from his ability to get the job done. My belief is he’s relieved to be going on to other things.”
Davis, who next year will be seeking a second two-year term in office, agreed that Gonzales was “vilified” by Senate Democrats.
“I don’t know him personally,” Davis said of Gonzales. “He may be a very honorable man, but Democrats had weakened him to the point where it made it hard for him to be effective. I think he did the right thing for the country by making the decision himself and speaking with the president and being willing to do what’s best for the country. That speaks to his character.”
Concerning military progress in Iraq, Blunt said an upcoming report from military commander David Petraeus should allow the United States to reduce troop levels, as Tennessee U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker suggested in a conference call last week.
“I believe we are going to get to a situation where we go from the taking and holding part of the work we have been doing in Iraq to where the job will then be to hold the territory we’re securing,” Blunt said. “That should be an easier job for the Iraqi military. I think the military is progressing quicker than the political side of the government is. I’m certainly hopeful (Alexander and Corker) are right.”
Davis noted a troop drawdown shouldn’t be based on politics.
“The troop surge is working militarily, and if it is working militarily you want to start to draw those troops down. By the time we’re into the election cycle next year for president, you’ll see changes in numbers,” Davis said.
Davis added most district constituents want the military to finish the job in Iraq.
“People don’t want to go back again in the future or see the homeland hit,” Davis said. “I was in Mountain City yesterday, and a retired Naval captain told me we probably ought to increase the war in the Middle East not just in Iraq. It varies from person to person I talk to.”
Blunt warned that after the August congressional recess, there will be a spending fight between Republicans and Democrats.
“Republicans are going to be on the right side of this fight because we are going to be standing strong against this excessive spending that has been part of appropriations bill after appropriations bill that David Davis and I have voted against,” Blunt said.