WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (news, bio, voting record) on Tuesday of pursuing a defeatist strategy in Iraq to win votes in the next election â a charge Reid said did not warrant a response. The two sparred hours after President Bush said he will veto the latest war spending bill taking shape in Congress, which includes a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq. Cheney, after attending the weekly Republican policy lunch on Capitol Hill, lashed out at Reid. "Some Democratic leaders seem to believe that blind opposition to the new strategy in Iraq is good politics," Cheney said. "Sen. Reid himself has said that the war in Iraq will bring his party more seats in the next election. "It is cynical to declare that the war is lost because you believe it gives you political advantage," Cheney said. Reid, D-Nev., dismissed Cheney's remarks later to reporters, but not before getting in his own dig at the vice president. "I'm not going to get into a name calling match with the administration's chief attack dog," Reid said. Democrats are preparing to send Bush a $124.2 billion bill that would, among other things, fund the war in Iraq but require that troops begin pulling out on Oct. 1, or earlier if the Iraqi government does not make progress in tamping down sectarian violence and forging political agrements. The bill ultimately sets a nonbinding goal for combat operations to end by April 1, 2008. "It's a good piece of legislation," Reid said. "I would hope the president would stop being so brusque and waving it off. This is a bill that is good for the troops. It's good for the country." Bush stood firm Tuesday against any measure that would set a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops. "I'm disappointed that the Democratic leadership has chosen this course," Bush said. "They chose to make a political statement," he said. "That's their right but it is wrong for our troops and it's wrong for our country. To accept the bill proposed by the Democratic leadership would be to accept a policy that directly contradicts the judgment of our military commanders." Democrats said they won't back down and pointed to past remarks by Gen. David Petraeus, the new Iraq commander, that security in Iraq requires a political solution. Reid, who says the war in Iraq is "lost," likened Bush to President Lyndon Johnson, saying Johnson ordered troop escalations in Vietnam in an attempt "to save his political legacy" only to watch U.S. casualties climb steadily. Bush said U.S. troops should not be caught in the middle of a showdown between the White House and Congress. "Yesterday, Democratic leaders announced that they planned to send me a bill that will fund our troops only if we agree to handcuff our generals, add billions of dollars of unrelated spending and begin to pull out of Iraq by an arbitrary date," Bush said on the South Lawn. He said the bill would mandate the withdrawal of U.S. troops beginning as early as July 1 and no later than Oct. 1, despite the fact that Petraeus has not yet received all the reinforcements he has said he needs in the latest military buildup to help secure Baghdad and the troubled Anbar Province. Democrats have argued that the election that left Democrats in control of Congress was a referendum for a change of strategy in Iraq. Bush used the same election results to argue his point. "The American people did not vote for failure," he said. "That is precisely what the Democratic leadership's bill would guarantee. "It's not too late for Congress to do the right thing." Petraeus will try to persuade lawmakers in a private briefing this week to pursue a difference course. As part of the president's push, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was expected to meet Tuesday with key senators, including members of the Senate Finance Committee, to discuss the funding bill. The topic also likely will be discussed at a policy lunch that Vice President Dick Cheney is having on Capitol Hill. Radio ads expected to air Tuesday will attack Reid as treating troops like a "political football," GOP officials said. According to a transcript, an Iraq veteran identified as Capt. Trip Bellard says, "Senator Reid's remarks undercut the morale of our soldiers and undermine our troops on the ground." As outlined by Democratic officials, the emerging legislation would require the withdrawal of U.S. forces to begin by Oct. 1, even earlier if Bush cannot certify that the Iraqi government is making progress in disarming militias, reducing sectarian violence and forging political compromises. Another provision in the measure would withhold about $850 million in foreign aid from the Iraqis if the government does not meet those standards.