Via Politico — and Drudge, AmSpec, etc — apparently this qualifies as “news” although I’m not sure why. The GOP field has to get away from the war but they also have to do so in such a way as not to be seen as quitting on it. Rudy walks that tightrope by playing the ultra-hawk: the war on terror is so sprawling and important, we simply can’t afford to waste much more time tied up on one battlefield. Mitt counters, as you’ll see here, with the “declare victory and go home” approach, hoping that the country will be in good enough shape by next year that we can finally start to pull back and ultimately out. If you believe the Times, that’s Petraeus’s plan too, although in his case as in Mitt’s, the “plan” is born from the realization that the surge will end next spring as the surge troops’ tours expire and the GOP scrambles to get on the right side of public opinion ahead of the election. Mitt’s shrewdly buying himself time with this answer, as he’ll continue to do for the rest of the year, but he’ll be in a bind next April if things haven’t improved.

Which, I should add, they well might, today’s bad news notwithstanding. I just got my first e-mail from Bill Ardolino, now on the ground in Fallujah, and while I can’t scoop him by divulging specifics he tells me that the progress he’s seeing is, and I quote, “a miracle.” Stay tuned to INDC Journal this week for more.