But he acknowledged setbacks and the doubts of some "that the war is lost and not worth another dime or another day." In a prime-time address from the White House, Bush pleaded with Americans to ignore "defeatists who refuse to see that anything is right."
Struggling to build confidence in his policy, Bush held out hopes for withdrawing American forces as Iraqi troops gain strength and experience. The President spoke from the Oval Office, where in March 2003, he announced the U.S.-led invasion. Nearly three years later, more than 21,000 U.S. soldiers have died, Bush's popularity has plummeted and about half of Americans think the war was a mistake. Yet a strong majority oppose an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces.
President Bush's address to the nation on Iraq is drawing reaction from both sides of the aisle. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid says he appreciates what he calls "the president's increased candor." But he says "too much of the substance remains the same." The Nevada Democrat adds "the American people have still not heard what benchmarks we must meet along the way to know that progress is being made." But House Speaker Dennis Hastert says "Any questions about the progress made in Iraq should have been answered by watching this week's historic elections." Congressman Charles Rangel says the president is trying to cut his political losses. As the New York Democrat puts it, "He knows he's in trouble and he's trying everything in the world to justify not only going into the war but staying in the war."
Senator John Warner calls tonight a "high water mark" in Bush's acknowledgment that "mistakes have been made and that he has to accept his share of the blame."