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Bush Seeks Public Support for Iraq Plan


President Bush has launched a campaign to win public support for his revised Iraq strategy. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports from the White House that a day after he outlined his plan in a speech to the nation, Mr. Bush traveled to one of America's largest military bases - Fort Benning, Georgia.

While members of his cabinet were testifying about the new strategy on Capitol Hill, Mr. Bush sought to rally public support for the plan.

He went before a receptive crowd - hundreds of soldiers and their families at Fort Benning, an army base in the American south.

They are personally familiar with the situation in Iraq. Some have already served there. Many more are preparing to go - part of a troop increase the president announced to the nation Wednesday night.

"Everywhere warriors from this base serve, you leave your mark, and I believe it will be a legacy of hope, freedom and peace," he said.

Mr. Bush reviewed the main points of his revised strategy for Iraq. He spoke about the need for more American combat troops to help bring sectarian violence to a halt, and he warned of the consequences of inaction.

"If we were to leave before the job is done, if we were to fail in Iraq, Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons," he said. "Our enemies would have safe havens from which to launch attacks. People would look back on this moment in history and say: 'What happened to them in America? How come they could not see the threats to a future generation?'"

Mr. Bush's tone was different from that of his formal speech to the nation. Standing in front of members of the military, he appeared more animated, and his comments were more personal.

He spoke about his relationship with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. And he talked about the bloodshed that so many Iraqis have witnessed in the last few years, and their thirst for peace.

"The prime minister and I have done some plain talking," he said. I have made it clear the patience of the American people is not unlimited and now is the time to act. It is time to act not only for our sake, it is time to act for the sake of people in Iraq. Shia and Sunni mothers want their children to grow up in peace."

The president said his plan will not yield immediate results, but it will work over time and a more peaceful Iraqi society will ultimately be the result.

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