Democratic presidential contender John Kerry says it is vital that President Bush press for international help to stabilize the security situation in Iraq.
Senator Kerry told reporters that security is vital to the successful transfer of power in Iraq. He said it is now up to President Bush to round up international support to help make that happen.
"I believe it is critical that the president get real support, not resolutions, not words, but real support of sufficient personnel, troops and money, to assist in the training of security forces in order to be able to guarantee a rapid, real transition. And most importantly, in order to be able to provide adequate security on the ground."
There were more positive reactions to the Iraq transfer from Republicans, including Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. "We have got a very difficult and challenging seven months ahead. But this was a smart move and I think it obviously serves to say once again that not only do we know about these challenges, but this (Iraqi) government has some plans and those supporting this government, like the United States, we are essentially the guarantor of its security over the next year or probably more, we too have plans in dealing with these challenges."
The situation in Iraq looms as a major issue in the November election and the unrest and casualties there in recent months have contributed to a drop in President Bush's poll ratings.
But some political analysts predict that the quick handover of power could help the president at home, particularly if the security situation in Iraq improves.
"If it paves the way for foreign leaders, for the United Nations, to get more involved [in Iraq], which I suspect is the real purpose of the administration in moving this along, then it really steals the argument from John Kerry that he has made all along," said political expert Craig Crawford, speaking on CBS television.
Senator Kerry voted for the congressional resolution that empowered President Bush to use military force in Iraq. But he has been critical of what he calls the administration's "go it alone" strategy in removing Saddam Hussein from power.