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Bush Defends Iraq, Nuclear Policies at Length

President Bush defends his administration's handling of security and foreign policy, from the U.S. response to North Korea's recent nuclear bomb test to the war in Iraq.

The president spoke in an unusually long Rose Garden news conference, which was announced abruptly Wednesday morning. It came days after the North Korean weapons test, at a time of escalating violence in Iraq, and as Republican leaders are trying to stem damage from the Mark Foley scandal.

And in recent weeks, the president has seen his own approval numbers taking a downturn.

Near the end of the event, the president was asked about the scandal involving resigned Rep. Mark Foley and congressional pages. President Bush again voiced his support for embattled Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

"Denny is very credible, as far as I'm concerned," the president said. "And he's done a fine job as speaker, and when he stands up and says, I want to know the truth -- I believe yesterday he said that if somebody on his staff didn't tell him the truth, they're gone -- I respect that, and appreciate that, and believe him."

Asked what he thinks of polls that show the Republicans struggling in the midterm elections, the president replied that his party would hold both houses of Congress. He said the upcoming elections will be decided on the issues of national security and the economy. The Republicans, he added, have the right plan for both.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.