Republican senators challenge Bush on Iraq


President Bush needs to tell Americans the nation faces "a long, hard slog" in Iraq, a key Republican senator said last night.

"Too often we've been told and the American people have been told that we're at a turning point," Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, said on NBC's Meet the Press. "What the American people should have been told and should be told . . . (is that) it's long; it's hard; it's tough."

"It's going to be at least a couple more years," said Mr McCain, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The White House is completely disconnected from reality.
Senator Chuck Hagel

Senator Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, was quoted by US News and World Reportas saying the administration's Iraq policy was failing.

"Things aren't getting better; they're getting worse. The White House is completely disconnected from reality," said Mr Hagel, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. "It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we're losing in Iraq."

US public polls show the Iraq war is losing support and hurting Mr Bush's popularity.

Vice president Dick Cheney has asserted the insurgency is in its "last throes," a suicide bombing in Baghdad on Sunday that killed at least 23 people underscored the unabated bloodshed.