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Bush Prepares for State of the Union Address


President Bush is putting the finishing touches on his 2006 State of the Union Address. He will deliver the speech Tuesday night to Congress and the nation.

U.S. presidents usually use the State of the Union to spell out their agenda for the year, and present a long, detailed list of programs and priorities.

But White House officials say this year's address will be more thematic in tone, and will provide an optimistic vision of the future.

President Bush is expected to focus on two broad areas: increasing prosperity at home, and promoting freedom abroad. In an interview broadcast Sunday on the CBS television program Face the Nation, he said many Americans still do not understand, for example, that progress is being made in Iraq. He said it is his job to be not just the commander-in-chief, but as he put it, the educator-in-chief.

"I think that people saw death on the TV screens without a sense that we are making progress," said Mr. Bush.

During the interview, Mr. Bush also hinted that he would talk about Iran's nuclear ambitions Tuesday night. And he said he would speak at some length about reducing America's dependence on foreign oil.

All indications are he will put forward some limited new domestic proposals that could help his Republican Party regain lost ground before November's congressional election, but will stop well short of any dramatic new initiatives.

On the Fox News Sunday program, Republican Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana said he expects the president to emphasize core conservative priorities.

"It's limited government, fiscal discipline, a strong defense and traditional values," said Congressman Pence.

Appearing on the same program, the head of the Democratic Party, Howard Dean, urged President Bush to level with the American people in the State of the Union. He said the president has some explaining to do in areas ranging from job creation to military strategy.

"We all want the president to succeed," said Dean. "But the president hasn't succeeded. I think that is because he has a lack of vision and, frankly, he hasn't been truthful with the American people."

The official Democratic Party response to the State of the Union will be delivered immediately after the presidential address by the new governor of the state of Virginia, Tim Kaine.

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