ROCHESTER, MINN., NOV. 2 -- President Bush will visit U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf area Thanksgiving Day during a trip that also will include consultations with leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia and the exiled emir of Kuwait, the White House announced today.

The Nov. 16-23 trip also is to include a summit on the future of Europe and signing of a landmark treaty on control of conventional arms in Paris and trips to Czechoslovakia and Germany, according to the announcement.

{In Washington, the State Department announced that Secretary of State James A. Baker III plans to visit Moscow next week to meet with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze to discuss the gulf crisis as part of the U.S. effort to bolster the global coalition against Iraq. Details on Page A18.}

Bush, campaigning for Republicans today, strongly condemned Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and asserted that the U.S. gulf policy is beyond politics. In speeches here and in Ohio before flying to Iowa and California, Bush maintained his tough denunciation of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and of its treatment of Americans held hostage in Iraq and Kuwait.

{In Iraq, foreign reporters were taken to several strategic sites and interviewed several U.S., British and Japanese hostages, who denied reports of mistreatment. Details on Page A18.}

Although Bush and his aides deny he is trying to shift the national debate from the budget fiasco to the gulf crisis, his plummet in opinion polls seems to have bottomed out, according to private GOP polls taken in the last days.

Republican sources, sounding a note of relief today, said that their almost-daily polling for GOP candidates gives Bush a 55 percent approval rating that has stabilized in the last few days. A question on whether respondents approve of Bush's performance is routinely included in most of the polls conducted for Republican candidates.

That trend coincides with a new Wall Street Journal-NBC poll published today that gave Bush a 56 percent approval rating and concluded his downward slide has ended. Bush started the election season with approval ratings some 20 points higher, but the weeks of wrangling over the budget that centered on his decision to drop his no-new-taxes pledge and Democratic charges that the GOP favors the wealthy put Bush into what officials described as a free fall.

A GOP source said yesterday of Bush's standing: "He has put the gulf in the news the last few days. There's been a bottoming out of his numbers the last few days. What do you think happened, given that nothing else has changed?"

Robert M. Teeter, a senior adviser to Bush and the GOP, asked if Bush had ended his slide by changing the subject, replied, "Sure." Bush "had a very bad two or three weeks when the government performed badly. When that happens, the president, as the national voice of the government, is affected. When that stops, it {the negative effect on Bush's popularity} goes away."

Teeter said Bush did not turn to the gulf crisis for partisan reasons but because "the budget issue is solved. There is an agreement. This is the major problem he is dealing with right now."

Virtually all public polls show approval of Bush's handling of foreign policy is significantly greater than approval of his handling of domestic policy.

Asked if his concentration on Iraq this week, before Tuesday's elections, was done with politics in mind, Bush replied, "I worry about that." But he dismissed what he called "some Democratic functionary {who} made the point that I would likely go out and use Iraq to garner votes. I view this as something much more important than just garnering votes."

None of the party officials or consultants contacted today said Bush's shift of focus to the gulf crisis showed any sign of helping individual GOP candidates, only that the shift and the end to Bush's slide in the polls coincided.

Bush's typical speech the past few days has opened with domestic politics and included a midway transition. In Minnesota Tuesday, for example, he said, "For the minute, I want to ask you to just set partisan politics aside because I know that everyone in this country is vitally interested in the situation in the Middle East." Then quoting former senator Arthur H. Vandenberg (R-Mich.) about politics stopping at the water's edge, Bush offered extensive remarks on his outrage over Iraq's aggression.

And, borrowing Ronald Reagan's 1982 midterm campaign theme of "stay the course," Bush said, "Only the United States has the strength and . . . total commitment to stay the course and see that this aggression is turned back."