In his fifth State of the Union address, President Bush has appealed for continuing support from Americans for U.S. efforts in Iraq, and the war on terrorism, while proposing a new imitative to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil sources.
In response, opposition Democrats criticized the president for what they called poor choices and bad management, saying the country is falling behind on a range of domestic issues.
With his public approval ratings in the high 30 to low 40 percent range, President Bush faced the task of restoring confidence in his leadership amid the war in Iraq, rising fuel prices, concern about the economy, and discontent over health care among other things.
Mr. Bush began with an opening tribute to Coretta Scott King, widow of the slain civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King Junior. Mrs. King died Monday after a long illness.
Then, Mr. Bush turned to a theme he has sounded before, the long-term goal of ending tyranny and promoting democracy -- especially in the Middle East:
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"We are writing a new chapter in the story of self-government, with women lining up to vote in Afghanistan and millions of Iraqis marking their liberty with purple ink and men and women from Lebanon to Egypt debating the rights of individuals and the necessity of freedom."
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On Iraq, although America may be able to reduce its 138-thousand forces now in Iraq, Mr. Bush repeated his position that there will be no sudden withdrawal.
Mr. Bush welcomed what he called responsible critics aimed at success, but warned against what he called "defeatism that acknowledges nothing but failure."
In the wake of recent audio and video threats by Osama bin-Laden and another al-Qaida figure, Mr. Bush drew prolonged applause when he said terrorists have miscalculated the will of Americans and others opposing them:
President Bush says Iran's government is defying the world over its nuclear ambitions, adding the world must not permit it to obtain nuclear weapons.
Iran denies its nuclear program has a military component.
On domestic issues, President Bush called America "addicted to oil" and proposed an initiative to invest in new technology for alternative fuels and hybrid cars that could enable the U.S. to replace more than 75 percent of oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.
Mindful of American job losses to foreign countries, he called for a new commitment to competitiveness in world markets, and urged Americans not to choose a road of isolationism and protectionism:
In other reaction, Democratic lawmakers called the speech more of the same rhetoric, while Republicans hailed it as a clear vision demonstrating Mr. Bush's steady leadership.
Whether President Bush's State of the Union address helps boost his public approval ratings or helps encourage bipartisan cooperation in Congress remains to be seen.