Bush Vows To Stay Course In Iraq

President Bush delivers his remarks at the Idaho Center Arena in Nampa, Idaho, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2005. Bush, rebutting critics who are calling for the U.S. to pull out of Iraq, pledged that as long as he is president "we will stay, we will fight and we will win the war on terrorism."
AP
President Bush, rebutting critics who are calling for the U.S. to pull out of Iraq, pledged that as long as he is president "we will stay, we will fight and we will win the war on terrorism."

In a speech to members of the Idaho National Guard and their families, the second this week by the president in an effort to rebuild support for the war, Mr. Bush emphasized the sacrifices military families make. He noted that Idaho has the highest percentage of National Guard troops serving in Iraq.

"We'll complete our work in Afghanistan and Iraq," Mr. Bush said.

"An immediate withdrawal of our troops in Iraq, or the broader Middle East, as some have called for, would only embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground to launch more attacks against America and free nations."

"So long as I am president we will stay, we will fight and we will win the war on terrorism," he declared.

In a clear response to anti-war moms like Cindy Sheehan – the California woman who lost a son in Iraq and has been holding a vigil near the president's ranch – Mr. Bush cast a spotlight on the family of Tammy Pruett. Four of Pruett's sons now serve in Iraq, and her husband and another son are back from service there, reports CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller.

"Tammy says this and I want you to hear this: I know that if something happens to one of the boys, they would leave this world doing what they believe, what they think is right for our country," Mr. Bush said.

The president said America lives in freedom because of families like the Pruetts.

After the speech, Mr. Bush was meeting privately with some relatives of military families before returning to his Texas ranch in the evening.

Among the family members scheduled to meet with the president was 18-year-old Stevie Bitah. Her father, Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Virgil R. Case, died June 1 from non-combat related wounds in Iraq.

"At first, I was kind of scared to do it. I didn't know what to expect. There's been lots of anger and sadness," Bitah said.

"If I met with him, I think he'd know that this person I lost was important to me – not only to me, but to my entire family."

Bitah said she does not share Sheehan's anti-war views but she hopes American forces will return soon to spare other families the loss she endured.

"I don't think he intended to go over there and have people lose family members. He's doing it for specific reasons; he's doing it to protect our country," Bitah said of the president. "My dad chose to go over there and that's something he was proud of, and our family was proud of him."