President Bush is out raising money for Republican Party candidates in next year's congressional elections. Mr. Bush is defending U.S. military action in Iraq, saying it is making Americans safer at home.
President Bush traveled to the Midwest state of Minnesota to raise what is expected to be as much as $1 million dollars for the likely Republican nominee for a U.S. Senate seat currently held by a retiring Democrat.
President Bush lost Minnesota in both 2000 and 2004. A statewide public opinion survey says only one-third of Minnesotans believe he is doing a pretty good job or better. But the president remains a proven fundraiser even for candidates who sometimes publicly disagree with him.
President Bush is expected to play an active role in fundraising for Republican Party candidates ahead of the 2006 congressional elections in which the party is protecting majorities in both the House and Senate.
It is also an opportunity for the president to speak outside Washington, to audiences of party faithful, about his strategy for success in Iraq, an issue which has helped bring down his overall approval ratings.
While one poll this week showed those approval ratings up from 34 percent to 40 percent, a majority of those surveyed believe the Bush administration deliberately misled the nation into war.
President Bush admits that pre-war intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was wrong but says he still would have ordered a U.S. invasion because bringing down Saddam Hussein has made America safer from terrorist attack and will help spread democracy throughout the Middle East.
"We will defeat the terrorists in Iraq," said Mr. Bush. "We will not let al-Qaida get a stronghold in Iraq. We will help this country develop a democracy, which will send a powerful signal to people in Damascus and Tehran."
The president told a Republican Party rally in Minneapolis that opposition Democrats who are calling for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq would embolden the enemy, undermine the country's political future and send the wrong message to U.S. troops fighting there.
"It's important for you to know that the Iraqis want to secure their democracy, and democracy helps make this world more peaceful. There is a debate raging in Washington DC There are some who are arguing for a fixed timetable of withdrawal. I think it is the wrong policy," added Mr. Bush.
President Bush continues an effort to build public support for his Iraq policy Monday with a speech in the city of Philadelphia. He is expected to speak again on progress in the war ahead of Thursday's vote in Iraq for a new national assembly.