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Bush: Victory in Iraq 'Vital'


President Bush took to the campaign trail Friday, trying to boost his Republican Party, which is seeking to retain control of Congress in legislative elections next month. The president attacked opposition Democrats, saying their party is not up to the challenge of protecting the United States from terrorist threats.

October is shaping up to be one of the deadliest months for American troops since the U.S.-led war in Iraq began in March 2003. More than 70 troops have been killed this month, as well as hundreds of Iraqi civilians, amid growing sectarian violence between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims.

The White House says it will not allow political considerations to dictate its strategy in Iraq. President Bush told Republican supporters in Washington Friday that he knows the situation is difficult and is a fundamental issue in the current campaign. But he reaffirmed his commitment to achieve victory in Iraq, saying it us vital to the security of a generation of Americans to come.

"And so we will stay in Iraq, we will fight in Iraq, and we will win in Iraq," said Mr. Bush.

The president says tactics change all the time, but the strategy remains the same: to achieve victory.

"Our goal in Iraq is clear and unchanging: a country that can sustain itself; a country that can govern itself; a country that can defend itself; and a country that will be an ally in the war against these extremists," he added.

The president, who has repeatedly criticized opposition Democrats as the "party of cut and run" for calling for a timetable to leave Iraq, accused them of being the party of "doubt and defeat." Mr. Bush says they consider Iraq a diversion from the larger war on terror, while he considers it a central part of protecting America.

Democrats have been seeking to capitalize on growing concerns over U.S. strategy in Iraq in congressional elections. They have criticized the president's strategy of "staying the course" in Iraq, in spite of spiraling violence.

An independent commission led by former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and former Democratic Representative Lee Hamilton is exploring options for a new Iraq strategy.

President Bush is holding informal consultations with General John Abizaid, the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East.

U.S. officials say President Bush will review the situation in Iraq in consultations with top U.S. generals Saturday.

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