Bush makes plans for Iraq war anniversary

Sunday, March 14, 2004

WASHINGTON -- The White House is hoping to spotlight progress in the broad war on terrorism this week as President Bush marks the one-year anniversary of the Iraq invasion.

The focus will be on such issues as the breakup of an arms-dealing network based in Pakistan and Libya's decision to give up weapons of mass destruction, even as Bush speaks on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Also blended into Bush's schedule will be political events in key electoral states including Pennsylvania and Florida.

Every day this week, the White House has arranged events meant to highlight gains in the war on terrorism since the Iraq war, which began March 19, 2003.

Bush sets the stage this weekend by sending Secretary of State Colin Powell, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld onto news shows today. Their message: The Iraq campaign and the anti-terror war are getting results.

Monday, the White House showcases the tons of nuclear weapons components shipped from Libya to a storage facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn. In December, the United States and Britain persuaded Libya to abandon nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham leads journalists on a tour of the storage facility.

Tuesday and Wednesday, Bush meets with the Dutch and Irish prime ministers -- two strong allies on the Iraq war.

Also Tuesday, the Defense Department borrows a favorite White House tactic by inviting radio talk-show hosts to the Pentagon. Rice and Rumsfeld are among those who will speak to dozens of interviewers.

Vice President Dick Cheney will deliver a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library near Los Angeles on Wednesday, exactly one year after Bush gave Saddam Hussein an ultimatum to leave Iraq or be forcibly removed from power. The speech will try to spell out the choices Americans will face in national security terms in the presidential campaign.

On Thursday the president returns to Fort Campbell, Ky., for a speech to military personnel and for lunch with the troops. He visited the base in November 2001, shortly after the terrorist attacks.

The weeklong effort culminates next Friday with a Bush speech at the White House. Besides the effect of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on the broader anti-terror effort, Bush is expected to talk about Middle East peace efforts. Ambassadors from several countries that backed Bush in the Iraq war, including Britain, Italy and Spain, will attend.

Also Friday, the president visits again with wounded troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He did similar visits to the hospital in January, April, September and December of last year.

Polls show that by a 2-1 margin, voters approve of the way Bush is dealing with terrorism.

There is also overt politicking next week, starting with a trip Monday to Pennsylvania and concluding with one Saturday to Florida.

They are the two states Bush has visited most often -- Pennsylvania 25 times, Florida 19 times. He urgently wants to win both states. Bush lost Pennsylvania in 2000, and it carries a rich cache of 21 electoral votes this year. Florida's recount decided the last election; this year it has 27 electoral votes.

On Monday, Bush makes a quick hop back to Pennsylvania to talk up a bright spot in the economy -- homeownership, which Bush often reminds listeners is at an all-time high.

He headlines a "conversation on health care" Tuesday in downtown Washington, touching on another hot-button electoral issue.

Saturday, Bush attends a rally with thousands of supporters in Orlando, Fla.

Bush has no re-election fund raisers planned in coming days. Campaign officials say that as he approaches his goal of collecting $170 million, he will increasingly focus on raising money for the Republican Party and other GOP candidates.

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