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Bush Reinforces State of Union Message with Follow-Up Speeches


President Bush is following up Tuesday night's State of the Union address with a speech in the southern state of Tennessee. Mr. Bush repeated his assurance that America is winning the war in Iraq.

President Bush says he understands that Americans are anxious about the future, with continued violence in Iraq and concerns about the economy at home.

"Our state of the union is strong," said Mr. Bush. "I say that because America is working hard to protect ourselves, we are spreading freedom; our economy is vigorous and strong as well. But there is some uncertainty in some people's minds."

Mr. Bush spoke in the Tennessee city of Nashville, standing before a backdrop that read, "Americans win when America leads." He says it is his job to worry about threats to the nation and the safety of U.S. troops in Iraq.

"Every day of my presidency, I think about this war," added Mr. Bush. "That is what you've got to understand, and so when you hear me give a speech and talk about the dangers to America, they are real, not imagined. Some would like us to look at the world the way we would hope it would be. My job as your president is to look at the world the way it is."

Mr. Bush says the electoral win by the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, shows that voters there wanted change. But he repeated his warning that Hamas must renounce violence if it intends to work with the international community.

"Hamas now has a choice to make," said Mr. Bush. "If they want to work with the United States of America, they must renounce their desire to destroy Israel. They must be a partner in peace."

The president Tuesday night again warned Iran that the international community will not allow it to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran says its nuclear program is intended only for peaceful civilian purposes, including generating electricity.

Wednesday in Nashville, Mr. Bush repeated that threat and spoke of what he says are the aspirations of Iranian voters.

"I spoke first to the government of Iran and said the world will continue to come together in unity to say you cannot have nuclear weapons," added Mr. Bush. "But I also spoke to the people because I believe that everybody desires to be free, and I just wanted to assure them that some day they will be able to have a choice in their government."

The president says one reason to be active in the world is to spread peace, and if the United States withdraws from those efforts, he says it will miss the opportunity to make a more peaceful world for generations to come.

Democrats responded to the president's State of the Union and this follow-up travel with a television commercial questioning Mr. Bush's honesty. The commercial compares promises the president made in other speeches with what the opposition party says is the truth and criticizes him for the loss of nearly three million manufacturing jobs while running up a deficit of more than $337 billion.

Mr. Bush continues his State of the Union follow-up with speeches this week in Minnesota, New Mexico and Texas.

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