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Bush accuses Democrats of lacking plan for Iraq

"The Democratic goal is to get out of Iraq. The Republican goal is to win in Iraq," Bush told a rally at Georgia Southern University.

india Updated: Oct 31, 2006 16:20 IST

Weakened by the unpopular Iraq war, President George W Bush accused Democrats of lacking a plan to win it on Monday as he opened a weeklong drive to maintain Republican control of the US Congress.

"The Democratic goal is to get out of Iraq. The Republican goal is to win in Iraq," Bush told a rally in a gymnasium at Georgia Southern University.

Bush planned to travel every day but one until the November 7 elections, swooping into regions where races are tight and where a presidential visit aimed at drawing Republican loyalists to the voting booths might make a difference.

"This election is far from over," Bush said.

With polls showing voters far more inclined to vote for Democrats this year, Bush argued that it was the right decision to oust Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq despite the bloody insurgency that sprang up after the US invasion.

Accused by Democrats of refusing to budge from a stay-the-course policy, Bush insisted his commanders have the flexibility needed to adjust to enemy tactics and said the only way not to succeed is "to leave before the job is done."

"If you listen carefully for a Democrat plan for success, they don't have one. Iraq is the central front in the war on terror, yet they don't have a plan for victory," he said.

Dispatching the president was a calculation by the White House that Bush can help deliver votes despite a job approval rating below 40 per cent and deep dissatisfaction with his handling of the war in Iraq, where the death toll among US troops on Monday passed 100 for October alone.

"On a day when the United States reached a grim milestone in Iraq, President Bush resorted to the same tired old partisan attacks in a desperate attempt to hold on to power and avoid accountability for his mistakes," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said.

"We don't need another public relations campaign. We need a commander-in-chief who understands it is long past time to drop the deceptive and divisive rhetoric and change direction," Reid said.

In Statesboro, Bush campaigned for former Rep Max Burns, who is trying to defeat incumbent Democratic Rep John Barrow.

Later, Bush was traveling to Texas to help Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, the Republican candidate seeking to succeed Tom DeLay, the former No 2 Republican in the House of Representatives.

DeLay resigned his seat this year after he was caught up in the influence-peddling scandal involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and Democrat Nick Lampson is favored to take the seat as the party tries to pick up the 15 seats it needs to take control of the House.

Independent analysts suggest Democrats could gain 20 to 35 seats in the House.

Democrats would need to win several tight races to gain the six seats necessary to take Senate control.

First Published: Oct 31, 2006 16:20 IST