White House Watch: Bush launches dual January messages
As the new year begins, President Bush has settled on two messages he wants to emphasize in the weeks leading up to the State of the Union address on January 31.
First, he wants to reassure Americans that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is going well and that they should stay the course until he decides the Iraqis can take over more of their own security and allow a drawdown of U.S. forces. To that end, he has scheduled a speech at the Pentagon today and a session with former secretaries of state and defense tomorrow.
Second, he wants to call attention to what he considers the strong economy and take credit for keeping it that way.
In the process, aides say, the president wants to avoid seeming inflexible, which Republican strategists see as one of voters' biggest concerns about him. That means Bush and his surrogates will increasingly talk about how his administration has "adjusted" its military tactics in Iraq to overcome initial setbacks and to deal with the changing methods of the insurgents. Bush wants to show confidence but at the same time not seem arrogant, a senior GOP strategist says.
Bush advisers say he'll get a nice boost with the expected confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court in the next few weeks.