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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
President Bush used a Fourth of July visit to West Virginia to call on Americans to show resolve in Iraq. The president defended his policies in the war and likened the difficulties there to the struggles of the Revolutionary War in the years after the Declaration of Independence. NPR's Don Gonyea reports.
DON GONYEA reporting:
The speech contained the same message and much of the same language as President Bush's prime-time address to the nation from Ft. Bragg last week in North Carolina. Today, on a sunny morning in Morgantown, at West Virginia University, the president used this day in history to make the case that winning freedom is never easy.
President GEORGE W. BUSH: From the Battle of New York to the winter at Valley Forge to the victory at Yorktown, our forefathers faced terrible losses and hardships, yet they kept their resolve. They kept their faith in a future of liberty. And with their hard-won victory, we guaranteed a home for the Declaration's proposition that all are created equal.
GONYEA: This appearance is part of a new push by the White House to reverse falling support for the war in public opinion polls. A new Gallup poll shows that a majority of Americans say the war in Iraq wasn't worth it. The same poll asked if the president has a clear plan for the war. Fifty-eight percent said he does not, compared to 38 percent who say he does. Today the president again said that US troops will remain in Iraq until the mission is completed.
Pres. BUSH: We know that the freedom we defend is meant for all men and women and for all times.
(Soundbite of applause)
Pres. BUSH: And we know that when the work is hard, the proper response is not retreat. It is courage.
(Soundbite of applause)
GONYEA: The president's goal at an event like this is to acknowledge the difficulty of the mission, but to persuade the public that there is a strategy in place and that progress is being made despite the rising number of suicide and bomb attacks by the insurgency. He also continues to evoke the events of September 11th, 2001 as part of the need to continue the fight. The White House acknowledges there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, but the president maintains that the 9/11 attacks make it necessary to confront other threats such as the one he said was posed by Iraq. Now he says it's the insurgents who have flocked to Iraq since the fall of Baghdad who pose a threat that must be stopped.
On this holiday, the president did not mention the big story of the past few days, the announced retirement of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The president's aides say he spent the weekend at Camp David reviewing backgrounds of possible successors. He leaves on a four-day European trip tomorrow. He is not expected to bring forth the Supreme Court nominee until next week at the earliest.
Don Gonyea, NPR News, Washington.
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