Bush: Critics of his Iraq policies back ‘cut and run’ strategy
LANCASTER, Pa. – President Bush said critics of his Iraq policies are advocating a “cut and run” strategy that would draw terrorists to American soil.”Leaving before we complete our mission would create a terrorist state in the heart of the Middle East, a country with huge oil reserves that the terrorist network would be willing to use to extract economic pain from those of us who believe in freedom,” Bush said Wednesday.”If we leave before the mission is complete, if we withdraw, the enemy will follow us home,” he said.Even though he spoke at a political event, Bush kept the criticism of his opponents gentle, and left partisan politics out of it. His critics are mostly Democrats who contend he has not outlined a plan for success in Iraq. They are increasingly supportive of a timetable for bringing troops home.”There are some good people in our country who believe we should cut and run,” the president said at a fundraiser for former Pittsburgh Steelers star Lynn Swann, who is carrying GOP hopes for an upset over Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor, Ed Rendell. “They’re not bad people when they say that. They’re decent people. I just happen to believe they’re wrong.”At the fundraiser, Bush raised an estimated $650,000 in much-needed cash for Swann, who trails Rendell in fundraising and the polls.The upset of three-term Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman last week in Connecticut’s primary has brought renewed attention to the issue of Iraq and how it might affect this fall’s midterm elections, in which GOP control of Congress is at stake. Lieberman was bested by Ned Lamont, a political newcomer who ran on an anti-Iraq war platform.Both parties have sought to portray the Connecticut results as evidence that their side is heading into November with an advantage with voters, who give Bush low marks for his handling of Iraq.Earlier in York, Bush hopped on a Harley-Davidson at a motorcycle factory as he made an election-year pitch for Republican stewardship of the economy.Cheers and applause erupted inside the Harley-Davidson Inc. vehicle operations plant when Bush straddled a high-end model painted blue and white and revved its engine again and again. Climbing down, he ripped off blue-tinted safety glasses that he insisted made him look like rock star Bono and jokingly struck a pose intended to show a hip side.”I’m just looking so far,” Bush said during a tour of the plant where 3,200 employees work around the clock on shiny motorcycles that move slowly around the assembly floor on tracks. “I’ll let Josh Bolten ride these things,” Bush said of his chief of staff, a motorcycle enthusiast.After the tour, Bush held a round-table discussion with Harley-Davidson workers about the economy, which has showed signs of slowing.An AP-Ipsos poll in early August showed about 37 percent supported Bush’s handling of the economy. That matches his lowest level in May 2006 and November 2005, but not that different from the last few months.—Associated Press Writer Martha Raffaele in Harrisburg, Pa., contributed to this report.