Returning to the White House tonight from a visit to Central Command in Florida, the president made good on his promise to veto a war spending bill that sets a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
Afterward, he addressed the nation.
"All the terrorists would have to do is mark their calendars and gather their strength and begin plotting how to overthrow the government and take control of the country of Iraq," Bush said of Congress' proposed setting of a withdrawal deadline. "Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure and that would be irresponsible."
Earlier on Capitol Hill, Democrats had the stage — signing a $124 billion war supplemental that sets a goal of withdrawing most combat forces from Iraq by April 2008.
"This legislation respects the wishes of the American people to end the Iraq war," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said.
"A veto means denying our troops the resources and the strategy that they need," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said.
The measure passed five days ago, but sending the bill to the White House on this day carried a political message. It was May 1, 2003, when the president, standing beneath a "Mission Accomplished" banner, announced — prematurely — the end of major combat operations in Iraq.
The war rages on, in Iraq — and Washington. Republicans charged that Democrats would lose the war with this bill.
"They will own it. And likely — much more likely attacks by al-Qaida on the United States will come as a result," said Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo.
Democrats, like presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, said recently on the campaign trail that the fight with the president won't end here.
On Wednesday, the president meets with congressional leaders to talk about compromise. The idea — imposing goals or benchmarks on the Iraqi government to meet as they try to form a stable government. A senior official says, "Our goal is to buy enough time for the plan to work."