It has been eight months since President Bush announced the new Iraq surge strategy and in that time we have heard every '08 presidential candidate weigh in on every aspect of the White House's policy: when U.S. troops should come home, how many should stay and how many should remain, what is the role of the remaining troops and what conditions need to be met for any sort of withdrawal?
After weeks of build-up, President Bush tonight announces the next step forward after the recent report from his top commander on the ground, Gen. David Petraeus, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker.
ABC News' Jennifer Duck reports that the speech is being called the "Return on Success," (a title which frankly confuses us for its meaning and questionable grammar.)
The speech is an opportunity for the President to lay out the way forward as his own plan – not one from Gen. Petraeus. The President will say, "The more successful we are, the more American troops can return home."
Specifically Bush will announce: - 5700 troops out of Iraq by Christmas (and not replaced) - 2200 Marines home this month (and not replaced)
The next progress report will come in March, when President Bush will direct Gen. Petraeus to return to Washington and brief Congress on where things stand in Iraq.
It's almost certain that the Democratic and Republican nominees will be decided by that point in March. The Petraeus Report 2.0, and the weeks of lead-up to his testimony on Capitol Hill, will make Iraq front and center in the early stages of the general election and the substance of that report could be key for one candidate to say that he/she is the candidate with the right plan going forward in Iraq.
John Edwards takes a unique approach in his response to the President's speech tonight. He bought two minutes of air time on MSNBC to personally rebut the speech after Bush delivers it.
You can view a short clip here:
Edwards will say that President Bush is "pressing on with the only strategy he's ever had: more time, more troops and more war."
Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Barack Obama and Edwards will be on Larry King Live after the President's speech but we won't see Mitt Romney (traveling), Fred Thompson (no interviews) and Hillary Clinton (no interviews).
Fresh from his speech to the nation on the Iraq war, President Bush delivers 11:35 am ET remarks to a military personnel luncheon at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Va.
Vice President Cheney makes 10:35 am ET remarks at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids before heading to Florida for 2:45 pm ET remarks at speaks at Centcom.
Out on the trail... Hillary Clinton is in California for a press conference with Magic Johnson in Watts before the big celebrity fundraiser the former Lakers star throws for her at this house. Quincy Jones, a longtime supporter of the Clintons, Motown founder Berry Gordy and music executive Clarence Avant serve as co-hosts.
Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, is back on the book trail in Austin, TX signing copies of his book "Giving" at BookPeople.
John Edwards is in Nevada for a private meetings and a quick press avail at his Las Vegas headquarters. After that it's off to the Golden State for private events.
His wife Elizabeth attends multiple campaign events throughout the day beginning at 8:30 am ET with a speech in Des Moines, followed by a community meeting at 12:00 pm ET in Waterloo before community meetings in Mason City and Algona.
Bill Richardson campaigns in Iowa where he holds the Sioux County Presidential Job Interview at 9:30 am ET in the Orange City Library. He then makes his way to Sibley for the Osceola County Presidential Job Interview at 11:15 am ET, followed by a Soapbox speech at 2:30 pm ET at the Clay City County Fair, in Spencer. Later in the afternoon, Richardson travels to Spirit Lake for the Dickinson County Presidential Job Interview at 4:15 pm ET and then heads to Estherville, for the Emmet County Presidential Job Interview at 6:00 pm ET.
TiVo alert!! Chris Dodd appears on NBC's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" Friday at 12:30 am ET.
Joe Biden stays in Iowa, meeting with Harrison County Democrats in Dunlap.
Dennis Kucinich attends the Maui County Democratic Party luncheon 5:00 pm ET to 6:00 pm ET then he will speak at Maui Community College
As for the Republicans… Mitt Romney is in Boston where he attends a 12:00 pm ET fundraising luncheon and fundraising dinner at 5:30 pm.
Rudy Giuliani is in Louisiana for 11:00 am ET remarks to the Louisiana Sheriff's Association Building in Baton Rouge. After that the former mayor makes his way to Oklahoma for a 4:15 pm ET visit with local residents at Steak Stuffers in Tulsa followed by another meeting at Blue Moon Café in Ada at 8:00 pm ET.
John McCain continues his "No Surrender Tour" in New Hampshire with a rally in Londonderry at 12:00 pm ET.
Fred Thompson is in Florida. He attends events in Miami, Jaycee Park and Cape Coral.
Mike Huckabee campaigns in Iowa, hosting several "Meet Mike Huckabee" events throughout the state. He also holds a conference call with his bloggers and another one with the media.
Ron Paul takes his campaign to Seattle, Washington and Tom Tancredo campaigns across Iowa.
POLITICAL STORIES ON ABCNEWS.COM: ABC News' Rick Klein "Obama: Shifting War Rhetoric?"
POLITICAL VIDEO ON ABCNEWS.COM: Giuliani Slams NYT and Clinton LINK
Warner Enters Va Senate Race http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=3597263"target="external">LINK
Romney Glad Obama's Not President http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=3596803"target="external">LINK
Giuliani Blasts Clinton on Iraq http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=3596849"target="external">LINK
Bush on Iraq: From Spreading Democracy to Stopping Violence LINK
Tony Snow: One on One LINK
Brownback's Iowa Strategy Sen. Brownback on what what went wrong in Iowa and how he's moving forward. LINK