ABC News' David Chalian Reports: 2008 GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has broken his silence on the "surge" and comes out with a written statement this morning joining the President (and his chief rival for the Republican nomination -- Sen. John McCain) in supporting the plan to place additional US troops in Baghdad and Al Anbar.
"In consultation with Generals, military experts and troops who have served on the ground in Iraq, I believe securing Iraqi civilians requires additional troops. I support adding five brigades in Baghdad and two regiments in Al-Anbar province. Success will require rapid deployment," says Romney in his statement below.
Gov. Romney also says, "It is impossible to defeat the insurgency without first providing security for the Iraqi people. Civilian security is the precondition for any political and economic reconstruction."
While there has been some Republican hesitancy/disapproval of the President's plan in recent days (Sens. Smith, Snowe, and Collins come to mind), the top-tier contenders for the 2008 Republican presidential field are clearly standing firm with the White House -- and with very little daylight between each other on the most dominant issue of the day.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was quoted by the Dallas Business Journal in December saying that he thought sending more troops makes sense, but he has remained largely silent on the issue despite his steadfast and strong support for the President's war effort.
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), who has not yet made his presidential intentions known and is not widely perceived to be a serious contender for the nomination, stands as the most ardent critic of the President's plan in a GOP presidential field still taking shape.
Romney, who finished up his gubernatorial duties in Massachusetts last week and has set up a presidential exploratory committee, raised cash and pledges totaling $6.5 million on Monday in Boston when he hosted a day long open-press national telethon-style fundraiser.