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2005-08-25

Bush Rejects Calls for Immediate Withdrawal from Iraq as Approval Rating Plummets to New Low

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President Bush mounted a major defense of the war in Iraq this week as he faces the lowest approval rating of his presidency. In his address in the Republican stronghold of Idaho, Bush rejected calls for an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and played up the case of a military mother who supported the Iraq war in what seemed a direct contrast to Cindy Sheehan. [includes rush transcript]

President Bush mounted a major defense of the war in Iraq this week as he faces the lowest approval rating of his presidency. On Wednesday, Bush spoke in Idaho before an audience of about 9,500 people, including members of the Idaho National Guard and other military branches. Idaho is one of Bush’s strongest centers of support. The address followed one on Tuesday in the Republican stronghold of Utah.

Anti-war groups kept the pressure on the president during his brief trip away from his Crawford estate. About 150 protesters gathered across a parking lot from the arena where Bush spoke last night.

The president’s remarks came as Cindy Sheehan arrived back in Crawford to rejoin the now internationally-known vigil she began two weeks ago. She spent the past 6 days in Los Angeles to care for her ailing mother. While Bush didn’t say Sheehan’s name in his address, he clearly sought to discredit calls made by her and her supporters for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

  • President Bush, speech in Idaho, August 24, 2005
    "I made a decision — America will not wait to be attacked again. Our doctrine is clear: We will confront emerging threats before they full materialize. And if you harbor a terrorist, you’re just as guilty as the terrorist. We will stay on the offense. We’ll complete our work in Afghanistan and Iraq. An immediate withdrawal of our troops in Iraq, or the broader Middle East, as some have called for, would only embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground to launch more attacks against America and free nations. So long as I’m the President, we will stay, we will fight, and we will win the war on terror."

President Bush also broke a two-year policy of avoiding specific mention of casualties in Iraq and gave a figure about the deaths of US soldiers for the second speech in a row. In what seemed a direct contrast to Cindy Sheehan, Bush played up the case of a military mother who supported the Iraq war.

  • President Bush, speech in Idaho, August 24, 2005
    "There are few things in life more difficult than seeing a loved one go off to war. And here in Idaho, a mom named Tammy Pruett. I think she’s here–knows that feeling six times over. Tammy has four sons serving in Iraq right now with the Idaho National Guard — Eric, Evan, Greg and Jeff. Last year, her husband Leon and another son, Eren, returned from Iraq, where they helped train Iraqi firefighters in Mosul. Tammy says this — and I want you to hear this–'I know that if something happens to one of the boys, they would leave this world doing what they believe, what they think is right for our country. And I guess you couldn't ask for a better way of life than giving it for something that you believe in.’ America lives in freedom because of families like the Pruetts."

Tammy Pruett was in the audience with her husband, Leon. Bush kissed her on the cheek after the speech. The Pruetts, who were featured earlier this year on CNN, said they received a call about a week ago from the White House requesting their presence.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: While Bush didn’t say Sheehan’s name in the address, he clearly sought to discredit calls made by her and her supporters for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I made a decision: America will not wait to be attacked again. Our doctrine is clear: We will confront emerging threats before they full materialize, and if you harbor a terrorist, you’re just as guilty as the terrorist. We will stay on the offense. We’ll complete our work in Afghanistan and Iraq. An immediate withdrawal of our troops in Iraq or the broader Middle East, as some have called for, would only embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground to launch more attacks against America and free nations. So long as I’m the President, we will stay, we will fight, and we will win the war on terror.

AMY GOODMAN: President Bush also broke a two-year policy of avoiding specific mention of casualties in Iraq and gave a figure about the deaths of U.S. soldiers for the second speech in a row. In what seemed to be a direct contrast to Cindy Sheehan, Bush played up the case of a military mother who supports the Iraq war.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: There are few things in life more difficult than seeing a loved one go off to war. And here in Idaho, a mom named Tammy Pruett — I think she’s here — knows that feeling six times over. Tammy has four sons serving in Iraq right now with the Idaho National Guard: Eric, Evan, Greg and Jeff. Last year, her husband Leon and another son, Eren, returned from Iraq, where they helped train Iraqi firefighters in Mosul. Tammy says this — and I want you to hear this — "I know that if something happens to one of the boys, they would leave this world doing what they believe, what they think is right for our country. And I guess you couldn’t ask for a better way of life than giving it for something that you believe in." America lives in freedom because of families like the Pruetts.

AMY GOODMAN: Tammy Pruett was in the audience with her husband Leon. President Bush kissed her on the cheek after the speech. The Pruetts, who were featured earlier this year on CNN, said they received a call about a week ago from the White House requesting their presence.

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