Larry Downing/AFP/Getty Images
President George W. Bush delivers the annual State of the Union address. Vice President Dick Cheney and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi applaud in the background.
President George W. Bush delivers the annual State of the Union address. Vice President Dick Cheney and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi applaud in the background. Larry Downing/AFP/Getty Images
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Read the State of the Union speech as prepared for President Bush, and the Democratic response by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA).
Audio of President Bush's State of the Union address, the Democratic response by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) and NPR's on-air analysis.
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President Bush opened his State of the Union address Tuesday night with a nod to Nancy Pelosi, acknowledging that he's the first president to begin an address to Congress with the words, "Madam Speaker."
Pelosi sat behind him as the nation's first female speaker of the House, but also as a powerful symbol of Bush's new political reality. For the first time, he faced a Congress wholly controlled by the Democratic party.
"We are not the first to come here with government divided and uncertainty in the air," the president said. "Like many before us, we can work through our differences, and achieve big things for the American people."
White House aides do not deny the president is politically diminished. Rather, they pointed to this speech as a chance for him to regain Americans' trust by offering bold ideas.
Bush offered a proposal that he said would make health insurance more affordable. And he laid out a plan to reduce the amount of gasoline Americans use to power their automobiles, with a goal of decreasing gas consumption for this purpose by 20 percent over 10 years.
But even as he sought to focus on some domestic issues, his speech eventually turned to Iraq — which dominated the evening. Bush used the latter part of his address to implore lawmakers to stand with him.
"This is not the fight we entered in Iraq," Bush said. "But it is the fight we are in."
Mindful that Democrats — and not a few Republicans — oppose his plan to send additional troops to Iraq, the president said: "Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq — and I ask you to give it a chance to work."
In his Democratic response, newly elected Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia said Bush took the nation to war in Iraq "recklessly."
"We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable — and predicted — disarray that has followed," Webb said.
Here, NPR reporters analyze key aspects of the president's address, summarizing his proposals and their prospects.