WASHINGTON – The voice of the Democratic response last Saturday, one year after President Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq, was an Army reservist who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and used to have good things to say about it.
Now, Paul Rieckhoff (search) has called on the president to admit mistakes in Iraq and give the soldiers there a mission they can accomplish rather than one fraught with diplomatic and military risks that Rieckhoff says are headed nowhere.
Rieckhoff, who was once featured in a news report from the ground in Iraq, introduced himself to America during the Democratic response to the president's weekly radio address. He has since made the rounds on television, including Fox News Channel, and elsewhere.
"I am not angry with our president, but I am disappointed. I don't expect an easy solution to the situation in Iraq, I do expect an admission that there are serious problems that need serious solutions. I don't expect our leaders to be free of mistakes, I expect our leaders to own up to them," Rieckhoff said in the radio response. He added that when the U.S. military arrived in Iraq, it was not equipped with enough vehicles, body armor, bullets, medicine or water, nor with a plan to use Iraqi trained fighters or secure the peace.
Rieckhoff acknowledges his rise from obscurity to chief spokesman of the Democratic Party ran right through John Kerry's presidential campaign, leaving some to question whether he is really a voice of reason, one of dissent or the sound of rank partisanship.
Click here to watch a report by Fox News' Major Garrett.