President Bush argued the benefits of his policies on Friday during the first of several local news conferences planned in the lead-up to mid-term elections.
In addition to touting the benefits of diplomatic action on Iran and North Korea, Mr. Bush said the U.S. must continue its military actions in Iraq, or risk letting terrorists win. He also argued that progress in Iraq is being overshadowed in the media by reports of violence. And he denied reports that the CIA has abandoned a unit set up to find al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
The president also used the occasion to highlight his administration's policies on education, energy and immigration, all subjects on which he has spoken repeatedly.
Today's news conference in the midwestern city of)Chicago was different in that the president was asked questions mainly by members of local rather than national media, with whom he usually meets. His spokesman said on Thursday there would be several more such news conferences set outside Washington in the coming months. Some will coincide with fundraising events for Republican Party candidates in the November elections.
Mr. Bush brushed aside a question that his low popularity ratings might hurt Republicans, noting that candidates had invited him to attend.