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Bush Seeks to Rally Support for Iraq War

President Bush wants to convince more Americans that the war in Iraq is central to preventing another terrorist attack inside the United States. Opposition Democrats say the president should pay more attention to strengthening America's defenses against terrorism.

President Bush says the security of the civilized world depends on defeating terrorists in Iraq.

As the fifth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York and Washington approaches, the president is giving a series of speeches, meant to boost support for a war that public opinion polls say a majority of Americans now believe was a mistake.

Mr. Bush continued that push in his weekly radio address, saying the war in Iraq is more than a military conflict. He says it is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st Century.

"On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation - the right of all people to speak, worship and live in liberty. On the other side are those driven by tyranny and extremism - the right of a self-appointed few to impose their fanatical views on all the rest," he said.

While the president says his current series of speeches on Iraq is not political, the war is central to much of the campaigning for November Congressional elections. Opposition Democrats hope to rally voters against Republican candidates who back the war.

President Bush says his critics do not understand what is at stake.

"Here at home, some politicians say that our best option is to pull out of Iraq, regardless of the situation on the ground. Many of these people are sincere and patriotic - but they could not be more wrong," he said. "If America were to pull out before Iraq can defend itself, the consequences would be disastrous. We would be handing Iraq over to the terrorists, giving them a base of operations and huge oil riches to fund their ambitions."

If U.S. forces give up the fight in the streets of Baghdad, President Bush says, Americans will face terrorist attacks at home.

In the Democratic radio address, Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson said the Bush administration has failed to sufficiently secure America's ports, nuclear facilities and transportation systems.

"Despite multiple warnings of future and possible man-made or natural disasters, the Bush administration and the rubber-stamp Republican Congress have failed to adequately prepare our nation, leaving us vulnerable to large-scale disasters," he said.

Thompson, who serves on the House of Representatives' Homeland Security Committee, also criticized the federal government for what he says has been its slow response to help those affected by Hurricane Katrina one year after the killer storm hit America's Gulf Coast.