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Bush to Deliver Last in a Series of Speeches on Iraq


President Bush Wednesday delivers the last in a series of speeches about his strategy for success in Iraq ahead of Thursday's elections for a new Iraqi assembly.

Mr. Bush has made three speeches on Iraq over the past few weeks, each focusing on one of the three elements of what he says is the way forward in Iraq by making progress in security, politics, and the economy.

With the fourth and last speech in this series Wednesday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan says the president will try to pull all those ideas together within the context of a country that is about to elect a new national assembly. "On the eve of an historic election, the president believes it is an important time take stock of where we are in Iraq, why we are there, why it is important, what the stakes are, and why we will achieve victory."

Mr. McClellan says President Bush feels an important obligation to keep Americans informed about his strategy for succeeding in Iraq, progress that has been made there so far, and the challenges that lay ahead.

Mr. Bush has seen some of the lowest approval ratings of his presidency over the last few months, in part because of continuing violence in Iraq.

This public relations campaign was meant to refocus Americans' attention on what is going right in Iraq at a time when public opinion polls show a majority of Americans do not believe the war there is worth it.

The latest CNN/USA Today poll shows the president's approval ratings on Iraq rising slightly but still below 40 percent. Nearly 60 percent of those polled do not believe the president has a plan for success in Iraq. That is about what polls showed when the president began this series of speeches.

Mr. McClellan says the White House is pleased with how Americans have responded to the speeches on Iraq. He attributes some of those low numbers to what he says are some Congressional Democrats misrepresenting the president's plan.

Mr. McClellan says the 2 1/2 years since the fall of Saddam Hussein have been difficult times but the progress the Iraqi people have made is remarkable. "This is a moment of historic change in the center of a dangerous region of the world. Change in the Middle East will make America safer and more secure by laying the foundations of peace for our children and grandchildren," he said.

President Bush says Iraq is a critical part of the fight against terrorism because battling insurgents there means Americans will not have to face them at home.

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