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Defiant Bush counter attacks on Iraq

The US president accuses Democrats of attacking him on Iraq without having a plan of their own for victory there.

india Updated: Nov 04, 2006 12:50 IST

US President George W Bush, looking to energise his party days before key elections, accused Democrats of attacking him on Iraq without having a plan of their own for victory there.

"Harsh criticism is not a plan for victory. Second-guessing is not a strategy," he told cheering Republican faithful packed into a high school gymnasium here.

The US president was on a six-day campaign blitz aimed at shoring up vulnerable Republican candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives in 10 states that he had carried in the 2004 White House race.

With the unpopular Iraq war the central concern on US voters' minds as Tuesday's vote nears, Democrats have cast the contest as a choice between a Bush's "stay the course" policy and "a new direction" under their stewardship.

"On this vital issue, the Democrats have taken a calculated gamble: They believe that the only way they can win this election is to criticise, and not offer a plan," he said.

Individual Democrats have floated various proposals on Iraq, where more than 2,800 US soldiers have died since the March 2003 invasion, but as a party they have broadly agreed on a phased withdrawal from the war-torn country.

Democratic Party chief Howard Dean later outlined his party's approach, making capturing or killing Osama bin Laden the top priority, and saying they would push to redeploy troops now in Iraq by withdrawing National Guard and Reserve while keeping a "special operations" force to deal with terrorists.

He told CNN television that the Democrats wanted to "cooperate with other countries instead of try to bully them so we can get nuclear weapons out of the hands of the North Koreans. And be tougher on Iran."

"So we have a plan. The president hasn't shown us his plan. He didn't have a plan when he got into Iraq.