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Bush: 'This Nation Is Meeting Its Priorities'


President Bush says the United States is promoting democracy in the Middle East as an alternative to terrorism. Mr. Bush used his weekly radio address to preview Tuesday's State of the Union address.

President Bush says Americans have confronted great challenges over the past few years and have responded with strength and compassion, as the nation wages what he calls a relentless campaign against terrorism.

"We're fighting this war on the offensive, denying terrorists refuge, identifying and seizing their secret finances, and holding terrorists and their sponsors to account," said President Bush. "These terrorists are still dangerous, and we will stay on the hunt, until they are destroyed."

Across the Middle East, Mr. Bush says, America is confronting danger and promoting hope. He says, in Afghanistan, the fall of the Taleban has led to a new constitution that promotes democracy and protects the rights of women.

"The leader of Libya has now pledged to disclose and dismantle all of his weapons of mass destruction programs," he said. "And in Iraq, the enemies of freedom are being systematically routed from their holes and rounded up. Iraqis are assuming greater responsibility for their own security and future government. American troops in that country are performing their duty with skill and courage, and we're proud of them all."

Domestically, the president says a deal to change the way older Americans pay for health care has broken years of political deadlock. He says his tax cuts have helped boost the economy by doubling the child tax credit and increasing incentives for small businesses to invest in new equipment and create more jobs.

"Our economy grew at its fastest pace in two decades in the third quarter of 2003," he said. "Manufacturers are seeing a rebound in new orders in factory activity. And more than a quarter million new jobs have been created since August."

Democrats say the tax cuts unfairly favor wealthier Americans, and are driving up huge federal deficits.

In the Democratic radio address, Maine Congressman Michael Michaud criticized the loss of three million jobs since the president took office.

"In the last week, we have heard a lot about what Republicans plan to do in the name of the American people," said Congressman Michaud. "But sometimes, I wonder if anyone in this administration has actually met any of the people they claim to be working for, people like the hardworking, struggling families I represent in northern Maine."

Democrats hope to use the economy to help unseat President Bush in this year's election.

The president's annual State of the Union address to Congress is his biggest stage for laying-out a vision for the country. In an election year, it is also an outline of the issues around which the incumbent intends to build his campaign.

In Tuesday night's address, Mr. Bush says, he will outline steps to create more jobs, help small business pay for health care and improve education. He says he will make the country more secure, more prosperous and more hopeful.

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