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Text: Bush News Conference on Iraq

FDCH eMedia
Wednesday, July 30, 2003; 11:47 AM

Following is the full transcript of President Bush's news conference where he took personal responsibility for claims he made in his State of the Union about Iraq. The president also touched on domestic issues such as gay marriage and the economy.

BUSH: Thank you. Good morning.

_____Bush Press Conference_____
Video: The Post's Dana Milbank and washingtonpost.com's Terry M. Neal evaluate the president's news conference.
Video Excerpt: Bush on Hunt for Hussein
Video Excerpt: Bush Defends Iraq Claims
Video Excerpt: Bush on Gay Marriage
Text: Complete Transcript
_____From The Post_____
Bush Takes Responsibility for Iraq Claim (The Washington Post, Jul 31, 2003)
Upbeat Tone Belies Downside Risks (The Washington Post, Jul 31, 2003)

I was hoping it'd be a little hotter here to prepare the traveling team for the Crawford experience this August, but thank you for coming.

I looking forward to going down to Texas, and I know the members will be going back to their districts.

As I travel around the country from Crawford I'm going to be focused on two vital concerns for our country: first, the safety of the American people; and the economic security of the Americana people.

On the national security front, it has been 90 days since the end of the major combat operations in Iraq. The nation has been liberated from tyranny and is on the path to self-government and peace. The Iraqi governing council is meeting regularly. Local police forces are now being trained.

And citizens are being recruited into a new Iraqi military, a military that will protect the Iraqi people instead of intimidating them. Soon representatives of the people will begin drafting a new constitution and free elections will follow.

After decades of oppression, the people of Iraq are reclaiming their country and are reclaiming their future.

Conditions in most of Iraq are growing more peaceful. Some areas, however, the violent remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime, joined by terrorists and criminals, are making a last attempt to frighten the Iraqi people and to undermine the resolve of our coalition. They will fail.

Our coalition forces are taking the fight to the enemy in an unrelenting campaign that is bringing daily results.

Saddam Hussein's sons did not escape the raids and neither will other members of that despicable regime.

By taking the offensive against desperate killers, Americans in uniform are assuming great risks for our country. The American people are proud of our armed forces and we are grateful for their sacrifice and their service in fighting the war on terror.

We also appreciate the military families who share in the hardship and uncertainties of this essential mission.

The rise of a free and peaceful Iraq is critical to the stability of the Middle East, and a stable Middle East is critical to the security of the American people.

As the blanket of fear is lifted, as Iraqis gain confidence that the former regime is gone forever, we will gain more cooperation in our search for the truth in Iraq.

We know that Saddam Hussein produced and possessed chemical and biological weapons, and has used chemical weapons. We know that. He also spent years hiding his weapons of mass destruction programs from the world. We now have teams of investigators who are hard at work to uncover the truth.

The success of a free Iraq will all demonstrate to other countries in that region that national prosperity and dignity are found in representative government and free institutions. They are not found in tyranny, resentment and for support of terrorism.

As freedom advances in the Middle East, those societies will be less likely to produce ideologies of hatred and produce recruits for terror.

The United States and our allies will complete our mission in Iraq. We'll complete our mission in Afghanistan. We'll keep our word to the peoples of those nations. We'll wage the war on terror against every enemy who plots against our forces and our people.

I will never assume the restraint and good will of dangerous enemies when lives of our American citizens are at risk.

My administration is also acting to ensure the economic security of the American people. Paychecks are already reflecting the reduction in income tax rates, which is providing relief to millions of taxpayers and small businesses.

American families have begun to receive checks from a $400 per child increase in the child tax credit.

This time when we say, "The check's in the mail," we mean it.

Through a higher expense deduction, small businesses have an incentive so speed up purchases of new equipment. We're beginning to see hopeful signs of faster growth in the economy, which over time will yield new jobs.

Yet the unemployment rate is still too high. And we will not rest until Americans looking for work can find a job.

To strengthen the economic security of the people, Congress needs to pass a sound energy bill to make sure that our households and businesses have a reliable, affordable supply of energy. Congress needs to pass legal reforms to cut down on the frivolous lawsuits that provide a drag to our economy.

Congress needs to approve reemployment accounts to help citizens that have the toughest time finding work. Congress needs to make sure that the child credit is refundable for lower income families.

We must continue pursuing an aggressive pro-growth strategy that creates jobs throughout our economy.

Economic security for America's seniors is threatened by the rising cost of prescription drugs. I'm pleased that both houses of Congress have responded by passing separate bills providing prescription drug coverage under Medicare. It's absolutely essential that the House and the Senate resolve their differences and enact a piece of legislation I can sign.

The lack of coverage for prescription drugs and many preventative treatments is a major gap in Medicare that denies some of our seniors the latest and best medicine. We must keep the promise of Medicare by giving our seniors better coverage and better choices.

I congratulate the House and the Senate on a productive legislative session so far. I also look forward to working with the members this coming fall on the priorities for the American people.

And now I'll be glad to answer some questions. We'll work our way around. There's no need for any unrestrained yelling.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

Mr. President, now with the deaths of the sons of Saddam Hussein and the capture of his chief bodyguard, what can you tell us about how close we might be to actually capturing or killing Saddam himself? And how important would that be to ending the war and stopping the violence against American troops?

And what do you say to those troops who have fought long and hard, and now are eager to come home, given the fact that it is hard to find other countries to send in troops that could serve as replacements?

BUSH: I'm getting a little older, so when you ask four or five questions, it's hard for me to remember every question.

But first, we do have a good rotation plan in place now for our troops--the 3rd I.D., which has conducted a lot of the major military operations since the beginning of the war, has now got a definite time in which they're coming home. And that, in itself, is a positive development. There were some concern amongst family members of the 3rd I.D. that they were getting mixed signals, and I understand that. And now, it's clear as to their rotation plan.

And by the way, as we rotate, we'll be changing the nature of the military configuration to have more of a capacity to move very quickly and to strike quickly, because our intelligence is getting better on the ground, as we're able to pick targets, as we're able to enrich targets and move quickly on the targets.

What other aspects--I told you, I warned you I'm getting older.


BUSH: Catching Saddam Hussein, that's right, yes, yes. Right. Thank you.

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