Media: The Associated Press
Byline: DEB RIECHMANN
Date: 31 August 2006
NASHVILLE, Tennessee - President George W. Bush says withdrawing U.S. troops
too quickly from Iraq would lead to a terrorist Iraq that would be more
dangerous than Afghanistan in the grip of the Taliban militia.
Bush, who is beginning a series of speeches Thursday to counter opposition
to the war, spoke at a political fundraiser, which raised more than $1.5
million (?1.2 million) for the Tennessee Republican Party and Bob Corker,
who faces a tough Senate race for November's election against Democratic
nominee Harold Ford Jr.
If the United States should leave Iraq prematurely, Bush said, it would
embolden an enemy that wants to harm Americans and shred U.S. credibility
"If we leave Iraq before the job is done, it will create a terrorist state
in the heart of the Middle East, a terrorist state much more dangerous than
Afghanistan was before we removed the Taliban, a terrorist state with the
capacity to fund its activities because of the oil reserves of Iraq," Bush
Later, Bush flew to Salt Lake City and was greeted at the airport by a
couple thousand cheering supporters. The airport was lit by floodlights, and
banners read: "Utah Loves President Bush."
"If we leave the streets of Baghdad before the job is done, we will have to
face the terrorists in our own cities," Bush said. "We will stay the course,
we will help this young Iraqi democracy succeed and victory in Iraq will be
a major ideological triumph in the struggle of the 21st century."
But not everyone in heavily Republican Utah is behind the president. Salt
Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, host of the more than 12,000 veterans in
town for the American Legion convention, led thousands of anti-Bush
demonstrators on a march through the city Wednesday. Anderson, a Democrat,
called Bush a "dishonest, warmongering, human-rights-violating president."
Bush delivers the first in a series of speeches on his campaign against
terrorists at the annual American Legion convention in Salt Lake City. The
appearances will continue through the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11
attacks and culminate on Sept. 19 when Bush addresses the U.N. General
It is the third time in less than a year that Bush has launched a public
relations offensive to try to rally support for the war in Iraq and his
effort to spread democracy in the Middle East. He did it in November and
December 2005 and again in March on the third anniversary of the U.S.-led
invasion of Iraq.
Back then, the speeches were aimed at countering news reports of daily
bombings in Iraq, where more than 2,300 U.S. troops had died. The death toll
has risen to more than 2,630 and in July, about 3,500 Iraqis died violently
_ the highest monthly civilian toll since the war began.
The new addresses come two months before congressional elections and at a
point when Bush's approval rating is at 33 percent in the August AP-Ipsos
poll. His approval on handling of Iraq also was at 33 percent in the poll.
"They are not political speeches," Bush said earlier Wednesday outside a
restaurant in Arkansas, where he made his first campaign stop of the day.
"They're speeches about the future of this country, and they're speeches to
make it clear that if we retreat before the job is done, this nation will
become even more in jeopardy.
"These are important times, and I would seriously hope people wouldn't
politicize these issues that I'm going to talk about."
While Bush said Iraq and terrorism should not be politicized, Defense
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, only a day earlier, attacked critics of the
administration's war policies and suggested they suffered from "cynicism and