In his final State of the Union address, President George W. Bush pressed for unity on the Iraq War and his economic stimulus plan.
George W. Bush said his final year in office will be focused on sustaining military progress in Iraq and signaled he will maintain a sizeable U.S. military presence there.
On the economic front, George W. Bush urged Congress to pass his economic stimulus plan without adding new spending, saying the package could play a critical role making the United States more competitive internationally. Bush also reiterated his position on Iran with a warning: “America will confront those who threaten our troops, we will stand by our allies, and we will defend our vital interests in the Persian Gulf.”
The state-run Iranian PressTV reported that Bush’s “rhetoric echoes anti-Iran hysteria” in the United States. China’s Xinhua news network focused on the economic aspects of the speech. Al-Jazeera examines Bush’s defense of his Iraq strategy, while the Israeli paper Haaretz reports on his appeal for the formation of a democratic Palestinian state.
Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama both criticized President George W. Bush for what they say is an attempt to ensure that the next president will not be able to withdraw from Iraq. In an interview with MSNBC after the address, Obama said Bush has been “foreshadowing” endless war. Obama said he “would have liked to see that we had a plan to exit from Iraq.”
In a statement, Hillary Clinton said Bush “isn’t satisfied with failure after failure in Iraq; he wants to bind the next President to his failed strategy by unilaterally negotiating with the Iraqi government about the future of the U.S.-Iraq security relationship, including the possibility of permanent U.S. bases in Iraq.”
All three of the Democratic candidates also criticized Bush’s economic stimulus plan, which, John Edwards said, “leaves out tens of millions of Americans who need help the most.”
Republican candidates generally praised Bush’s speech. Mitt Romney said on NBC that Bush “recognizes that Washington has been unable to deal” with problems including al-Qaeda and immigration. “This was a President saying, ‘You know what? Washington ought to get the job done.'”
Senator John McCain said Bush was “correct in his assessment” of the threat of radical Islamic extremism.
In a press release, Mike Huckabee said Bush’s speech reaffirms that “difficult as it has been, we are making progress in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and called on Americans to “take pride in the accomplishments of our warriors, under the superb leadership of General David Petraeus.”