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Bush Talks About War, Economy in Final State of the Union Speech

The president, 11 months from leaving office, spent almost half his address talking about foreign policy, especially the Middle East. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.


This week, George W. Bush gave his seventh and final State of the Union message to Congress and the American people. The president spoke at length about some of the issues that his presidency is likely to be remembered for.

He talked about the war in Iraq, and his decision to send thirty thousand more troops there last year.

PRESIDENT BUSH: "Some may deny the surge is working, but among the terrorists there is no doubt. Al-Qaida is on the run in Iraq, and this enemy will be defeated."

President Bush spent almost half the nearly one-hour speech talking about foreign policy, especially in the Middle East. He talked about his hopes for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. And he directed comments to the leaders of Iran.

PRESIDENT BUSH: "Come clean about your nuclear intentions and past actions, stop your oppression at home, and cease your support for terror abroad. But above all, know this: 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 president also talked about the American economy and widespread concern about the nation's economic future.

PRESIDENT BUSH: "In the long run, Americans can be confident about our economic growth. But in the short run, we can all see that growth is slowing."

He noted in his speech on Monday that "America has added jobs for a record fifty-two straight months." But that record has now ended. On Friday the Labor Department reported that the economy lost seventeen thousand jobs in January.

Reacting to the report, Mister Bush said the economy is still basically strong but going through a rough time right now. He called on the Senate to quickly pass a growth plan approved earlier this week by the House. Senate Democrats, though, want to add other measures to the plan.

In his final State of the Union address, President Bush offered few new proposals for his eleven months left in office. The Constitution limits presidents to two terms. And for the past year, the Republican president has faced a Congress led by Democrats. Both have low public approval ratings.

One new proposal in his speech was to spend three hundred million dollars providing education money to families of poor children. He also urged lawmakers to renew his education law, known as No Child Left Behind. And he talked again about his desire for immigration reform and changes in the Social Security program.

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius gave the Democratic response to the speech.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS: "Tonight’s address begins the final year of this presidency, with new leaders on the horizon and uncertainty throughout our land. Conditions we face, at home and abroad, are results of choices made and challenges unmet."

This coming Tuesday, almost half the states will hold elections to help choose the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees. On Monday the program THIS IS AMERICA will look at the campaign, the candidates and the process for choosing a president.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. Transcripts and MP3s of our programs are at I’m Steve Ember.