GEORGE W. BUSH AT MACDILL AFB - Mitch Perry

06/16/04

Speaking in front of an estimated 10,000 members of the military and their families directly, and thousands more watching overseas, President George W. Bush made an appearance at MacDill Airforce Base in Tampa this morning,sayng democracy is being born in Iraq even though insurgents are killing Iraqi officials and blowing up oil pipelines.

In his speech, which lasted slightly longer than half an hour, The President compared the reconstruction going on in Iraq favorably in comparison to what the U.S. and its allies had to do in helping rebuild Germany in the aftermath of World War II, mentioning setbacks that the U.S. had to contend with back in 1947 (roll tape#1 o.q."applause)

Only 2 weeks before the transfer of authority in Iraq, the President warned that there would be MORE violence in the coming weeks, but said the U.S. Military, and Iraq's new leaders would not bend (roll tape#2 o.q." applause")

President Bush is midway through a week of travel to Missouri, Florida, Washington and Nevada - four swing states that together would yield 54, or one-fifth, of the 270 electoral votes he needs to clinch re- election later this year.

Addressing not only the soldiers and families at MacDill but to the thousands watching in Afghanistan and Iraq, the President acknowledged the sacrifices - some never expected- that the troops are undergoing now, and will continue to do so (roll tape#3 o.q."and America will never forget them either")

The Administration called today's visit non-political, and thus it will be charged to taxpayers, and NOT his political campaign. But it was as effective as any ad could be, as his speech was carried live by 5 local Tampa Bay television stations, interrupting mid-morning programming.

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