WASHINGTON, DC - Facing plummeting approval ratings and mounting criticism of his Iraq war strategy, President George W. Bush aimed to shift the momentum in his favor as he presented ideas both new and old in his sixth State of the Union address Tuesday night.
On the Iraq war, Bush tried to rally support for his new strategy that includes sending 20,000 more troops to the war-torn country, mostly to Baghdad. The 43rd president said the sectarian violence that plagues Iraq was "not the fight we entered, but it is the fight we are in." He proposed to increase the size of the military by 92,000 troops during the next five years, and maintained the best way to win the war on terror is to bring the fight to the enemy.
The president highlighted several other foreign policy initiatives. He applauded recent United Nations sanctions on Iran and declared the U.S. cannot allow Iran's radical theocratic government to obtain nuclear weapons. Bush rallied Congress to fight AIDS, especially at home and in Africa, and to take steps to end genocide in Darfur.
Domestically, Bush laid out the outline of an economic reform plan. The three-step program focused on balancing the federal budget, cutting earmarks to special interests in half by the end of this congressional session and fixing the Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid entitlement programs. Bush requested the reauthorization of his education initiative, No Child Left Behind, and stressed the importance of providing health care to those who cannot afford it.
Bush's energy initiative received the loudest bipartisan applause of the evening. Emphasizing the need to limit America's dependence on foreign oil, the president proposed to reduce gasoline usage by 20 percent over the next 10 years. Further development of alternative fuels and doubling the capacity of the country's strategic petroleum reserves also topped his energy policy.
Most of all, Bush asked the country to give his policies a chance to work and described the state of the union as strong.