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Bush Warns Nation Against Isolationism, Protectionism

President Bush says the United States must not abandon its leadership position in the world, and must not embrace isolationism or protectionism. Mr. Bush urged continued confidence in the future during an address to a pro-entrepreneurial group in the state of Kentucky.

President Bush says the United States is confronting an era of international terrorism and a changing global marketplace, but must not surrender to fear or lose its collective self-confidence. "The United States of America must not wall ourselves off from the world, and must not forget our duty to help lead the world to be a better place. I believe everybody desires to be free, and the United States of America must lead the world to be more free," he said.

Mr. Bush was speaking to the American Competitive Initiative, which promotes research and development spending by U.S. businesses and better math and science achievement by America's students.

The president said, in order to boost freedom, the United States must remain engaged in the international community. He said it would be a mistake for U.S. forces to leave Iraq before democracy is consolidated. He added that the United States has a duty to promote peace in troubled areas like Sudan's Darfur region, to combat AIDS and hunger, and to provide assistance when disasters strike.

President Bush touted rosy U.S. economic figures, but said the nation has important issues to tackle, including reforming the Social Security system for retirees and ending its dependency on fossil fuels. He said the United States must continue to innovate, invest in research and new technologies, and improve education.

Above all, he said America must remain confident about itself and its destiny. "I understand there are some uncertainties and worries because of circumstances today. But you have a president who has no doubt in his mind that the world is headed to peace, and that this country is going to remain the economic leader of the world. We just cannot lose our confidence. America should not fear the future, because we are going to shape the future," he said.

Public opinion surveys show the American public growing increasingly pessimistic about U.S. efforts in Iraq, disgruntled about spiking energy costs, and worried about the nation's fiscal problems. Mr. Bush's approval ratings have sunk to the lowest point in his presidency, and polls show the American people are increasingly frustrated with the performance of the Republican-led Congress.

Voters will go to the polls for midterm congressional elections in November.