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Bush Promises Victory in Iraq, Safety for Schools

Times Staff Writer

President Bush promised victory in Iraq and safer schools while addressing standing-room-only crowds Wednesday at fundraisers in Arizona and Colorado.

The appearances wrapped up his three-day swing through four Western states.

Bush told a crowd of 450 at a morning fundraiser for Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) that winning the war in Iraq was key to protecting the country from terrorists.

“You’ll hear the Democrats say, ‘Well, it’s a distraction in the war on terror.’ I strongly disagree,” Bush told the crowd at the Camelback Inn ballroom, who applauded wildly as he added: “We will stay in the battlefield and achieve the victory for a generation of Americans to come.”

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In Colorado, Bush expressed sympathy for the family of Emily Keyes, the 16-year-old victim of a shooting Sept. 27 at Denver’s Platte Canyon High School, one of three recent shootings at schools across the country.

Before returning to Washington, Bush said he had asked Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzalez and Education Secretary Margaret Spellings to call a meeting of experts and officials in Washington on Tuesday to help state and local governments cope with the shootings and ensure that schools are safe.

As he did at fundraisers in California and Nevada on Tuesday, Bush cast the midterm congressional elections as a battle between competing economic and national security philosophies, with only Republicans able to keep the country safe and prosperous.

In Arizona and at the fundraiser for Colorado Rep. Bob Beauprez, Bush said the Democratic congressional leadership had failed to endorse the necessary tools to prevent terrorist attacks, such as the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping of terrorism suspects and CIA programs for terrorism detainees.

“We believe strongly that we must take action to prevent attacks from happening in the first place,” Bush said. ".... They view the threats we face like law enforcement, and that is, we respond after we’re attacked. And it’s a fundamental difference.”

Democratic reaction to Bush’s speech was swift. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, issued a statement calling on Bush to acknowledge what he called failed policies in Iraq and to propose solutions.

“Instead of making baseless claims, the president should focus on the facts and discuss what he’s doing to improve the situation on the ground in Iraq,” Schumer wrote.

After the morning fundraiser, Bush signed the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, flanked by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Renzi, Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.) and Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano.

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Though he praised the bill, which pays for added U.S. Border Patrol agents, border fencing and technology, the president repeated his call for a guest worker program that would allow foreigners to legally enter the United States for jobs Americans don’t want.

“Enforcement alone is not going to work,” Bush said. “You need comprehensive reform that provides a legal way for people to work here on a temporary basis. It’s going to relieve pressure on the border.”

molly.hennessy-fiske@

latimes.com

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