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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.

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