WASHINGTION (AP) – Republicans worried about losing Congress are challenging President Bush on Iraq, eroding his base of support for the unpopular war just two weeks before midterm elections.

Increasing calls from restive Republicans for new ideas to extricate the U.S. come as the White House itself seems to struggle for a better course, or at least a better way to describe the current course.

Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, seemed to open the floodgates to GOP criticism this month when he warned after a trip to Iraq that the war was “drifting sideways” and a course correction might soon be warranted.

In recent days:

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) said she would not have supported the invasion had she known there were no weapons of mass destruction, and she has proposed splitting Iraq into three parts.

Virginia Republican Sen. George Allen, locked in an unexpectedly difficult re-election battle with Democratic challenger James Webb, dropped his stay-the-course mantra to assert, “We cannot continue doing the same things and expect different results. We have to adapt our operations, adapt our tactics.”

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