"Today" Lines Up A Republican Story -- But Only Bush Surge Critics

The lead story on Friday’s Today, in a surprising and uncommon move, featured all Republicans. Of course, all of these Republicans are opposed to the president’s plan in Iraq. NBC’s Chip Reid profiled the sponsor of one of the resolutions opposing the surge, Republican Senator John Warner of Virginia.Reid high lighted Warner’s service in both World War II and Korea, then played a sound bite of Senator Susan Collins of Maine, another Republican opponent, stating "when a distinguished veteran like John Warner speaks out on this issue, and cautions us to take another look, it matters." Reid then played a sound bite from Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, perhaps the fiercest Republican opponent of surge and of course emphasized that he’s a Vietnam War veteran. In this story, Reid did not devote any time to Republicans that actually support the surge, including its strongest supporter, former Vietnam prisoner of war, Senator John McCain.  Today then followed with an interview with surge critic Chuck Hagel. The entire transcript is below.

David Gregory: "But first we're going to turn to Capitol Hill, and the chorus of opposition to President Bush's surge in Iraq that is growing louder and even including some key Republicans. NBC's Chip Reid is on the Hill this morning with more on all of this. Chip, good morning."

Chip Reid: "Well, good morning David. It is well understood here on Capitol Hill that if a non-binding resolution opposing the troop increase is going to have any effect on President Bush it must have Republican support."

Senator John Warner (R-VA): "It's an important mission, but I feel strongly that the mission should be given primarily to the Iraqi forces."

Reid: "Republican Senator John Warner of Virginia is one of Congress's most respected voices on military matters."

Warner: "I'm the only guy I ever met that had to go to boot camp twice."

Reid: "A veteran of Korea and World War II, he's also a former Secretary of the Navy. He's long been a strong supporter of the Iraq War traveling there eight times. Saddam Hussein's arm chair."Warner: "That's his armchair. I just decided to bring it back home, put it up there as a reminder of what we got to do and finish the job."

Reid: "But he disagrees with the president's plans for a troop build-up in Baghdad and is leading an effort to pass a non-binding resolution opposing it."

Warner: "It's important that it be bipartisan. I don't want to see all the Democrats go to their side of the chamber and vote one way, all the Republicans go to their side and vote the other way." Reid: "So far three other Republicans have signed on."

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME): "When a distinguished veteran like John Warner speaks out on this issue, and cautions us to take another look, it matters."

Reid: "A more strongly worded resolution opposing the buildup was passed 12-9 by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week. All Democrats voted yes. A number of Republicans voted concerns about the president and his plan."

Senator George Voinovich (R-OH): "Many of us feel you are not listening."

Reid: "But only one committee Republican voted against the troop increase, Vietnam veteran Chuck Hagel of Nebraska."

Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE): "There are real lives. And we better be damn sure we know what we're doing, all of us, before we put 22,000 more Americans into that grinder."

Reid: "Senator Warner says Hagel's resolution is too critical of the president and has little chance of attracting much Republican support."

Warner: "It was confrontational to the president and a lot of the rhetoric surrounding the introduction of that. I tried to keep the rhetoric of our resolution very low-key, very informal."

Reid: "And the debate in the Senate is expected to begin next week. It will be explosive. And at this point, it appears that most Republicans will support their president."