State of Disunion: Republicans Beat Up on Bush After Speech

Dozens of Republican leaders joined Democrats in taking aim at President Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Facing a split within his own party and sagging approval ratings over Iraq, the president faced a major challenge: to win over the American public and to win back the support of prominent Republicans, who oppose his strategy for Iraq.

In Bush's 50-minute speech, he implored Congress to back his plan to send more troops: "Give it a chance to work."

But over the next two hours, a bipartisan group assailed his policies. Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter both attacked the president's plan for a troop buildup.

"To put more American personnel in harm's way without a realistic chance for success is something I'm not in favor of," said Specter. And Snowe, who has signed on with Sens.Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Joe Biden (D-Del.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) in a resolution opposing the surge, said, "I continue to believe that adding additional troops does not address the root causes of violence in Iraq."

The speech didn't sway Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), who said that he remains opposed to the troop increase. "It hasn't changed by mind," Brownback said. "I think we have to have a bipartisan buy-in on the war in Iraq."

And Virginia Republican John Warner, a powerful member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who opposes the surge but is against Hagel's nonbinding resolution, was more complimentary of Democratic Sen. Jim Webb's response than he was of Bush's speech.

After praising Bush for his "gracious" introduction of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Warned added that Webb's "heartfelt" message "earned the respect of military families across America.

In his speech, Bush made an impassioned effort to revive his presidency by offering proposals to extend health insurance coverage and to cut gasoline consumption.

And he pushed his immigration program, which failed in the face of Republican opposition last year.

But even those proposals were criticized by numerous Republicans.

On health care, Larry Craig (R-Idaho) said Bush's plan "moves us in the right direction." But he worries about how the plan would treat employers' contributions toward health insurance as taxable income.

"Unfortunately, the accompanying tax increase will be impossible to swallow," he said.

As for energy, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) called it a "a good start" but said "much more can be done," adding that he wants Bush to tap Utah's geothermal energy sources.

And New Mexico Republican Sen. Pete Domenici was disappointed in the president's plan, saying, "I have been troubled by the administration's tepid commitment to loan guarantee programs that will provide the support needed to deploy biomass, solar, clean coal and nuclear energy."

And regarding the troop surge in Iraq, some of the president's supporters -- such as Republican Sen. Pat Roberts -- were concerned that these domestic proposals would not survive the bipartisan skepticism of Bush's policies.

"What remains to be seen is whether any of the president's domestic agenda, no matter how worthy, can get off the ground without greater public and congressional support," said Roberts.

Among the president's supporters were Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has become one of Bush's biggest cheerleaders since their vicious battled during the 2000 presidential primary.

In language that almost mirrored Bush's speech, McCain told ABC News' Charles Gibson that the president's strategy "ought to be given a chance." Another ally was independent Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who challenged Congress to respond to Bush's domestic ideas. "Whether the issue is energy independence, immigration, health care, education, global warming or the war in Iraq, I would hope that this Congress would put progress before partisanship," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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