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President Bush Returns After Five-Day Trip to Europe - 2004-06-30


President Bush has returned from a five-day trip to Europe where members of the NATO alliance agreed to help train a new army in Iraq.

It has been a busy month of travel for President Bush with visits to Italy, France, Ireland, and Turkey as well as hosting the G8 summit here in America.

With that schedule complete, there is now no more overseas travel planned for Mr. Bush before November's election. He will be focusing more on the campaign ahead with public opinion polls showing a close race with the presumptive Democratic challenger, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.

Iraq and the U.S. economy remain the biggest electoral issues. The president will continue campaigning on the assertion that toppling Saddam Hussein has made America safer from terrorist attack.

But the president's political team hopes the hand-over of power in Baghdad makes Iraq less of an issue for voters with several new polls showing a majority of Americans now believe the war was not worth the cost and do not believe the president had a clear plan to restore order.

Mr. Bush has stronger numbers on the economy where a slow, but steady recovery is continuing to produce some job growth. Democrats hope to keep voters focused on record job losses during the Bush administration along with record tax cuts that Democrats say are driving up the federal deficit.

In a head-to-head race, Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry are about even in most polls with a large number of voters saying they have already made up their minds. That means both campaigns will focus even more on undecided voters, especially those in 18 states that political observers believe could go either way.

After a day to rest-up from the trip Wednesday, President Bush speaks to African American leaders Thursday and campaigns on the economy Friday before celebrating American Independence Day Sunday, in the key electoral swing state of West Virginia.

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