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Bush works to gain support for Iraq War

The President has been the last several days working to build support for the war in Iraq.  His most recent venue was a town-hall meeting with military families in West Virginia.  Hardball Correspondent David Shuster reports.

After acknowledging that U.S. troops will be staying in Iraq for at least three more years, President Bush spoke to military families in West Virginia and highlighted the importance of the war.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I strongly believe that by promoting liberty, we’re not only protecting ourselves, but we’re laying the foundation of peace for a generation to come.

The large sign saying “Plan for Victory” are part of the latest White House marketing effort.  Administration officials believe that in order for an increasingly anxious public to accept that Iraq is getting safer for democracy, the public must first believe...

BUSH:  ... We have a strategy for victory in Iraq.

Having a strategy though does not mean it is capable of making Iraq a stable, far less dangerous country for people living in Iraq, the region and the world.  But that’s not part of the president’s message.

BUSH:  I can’t ask this good Marine to go into harm’s way if I didn’t believe, one, we’re going to succeed, and two, it’s necessary for the security of the United States.

The latest polls show that military veterans and families like the rest of the country are losing confidence in the president’s handling of Iraq. 

Many critics point to the contradictions between the president’s depiction of the war and what has been said by U.S. military commanders.  Just last week, for example, President Bush spoke about the intentions of most Iraqis and argued that many of the IED’s targeting U.S. troops are the result of outsiders.

BUSH:  Some of the most powerful IED’s we are seeing in Iraq today includes components that came from Iran.

But at the Pentagon...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you have proof that they are indeed behind this, the government of Iran?


In West Virginia, unlike the last three presidential events focused on Iraq, all of the questions were supportive of the president. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Again, I thank God you’re our commander-in-chief.

While the president in his press conference on Tuesday accused the media of giving a distorted picture on Iraq, today he did not have to say a word, because it was the theme articulated by his audience.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It seems that our major media networks don’t want to portray the good. 

After the wild applause died down, the president passed on the opportunity to hammer the mainstream media, though he encouraged the audience to look for the truth from alternatives.

BUSH:  There’s word of mouth, there’s blog, there’s Internet, there’s all kinds of ways to communicate which is literally changing the way people are getting their information.

Still in an acknowledgement today that the information out of Iraq across the spectrum has left the American people growing weary, the president stated he will be increasing the pressure on Iraq’s political leaders.

BUSH:  I spoke to our ambassador today and General Casey via video conferencing.  And we talked about the need to make it clear to the Iraqis.  It’s time to get a government in place that can start leading this nation and listening to the will of the people.

It’s the people in this country however who are losing patience and so even though President Bush has said that U.S. forces will be staying if Iraq for years to come, the White House is now throwing around the word victory, even as its newly-admitted timetable has it receding further and further into a future that is uncertain.  I’m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.