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Bush vows to keep terrorists 'on the run'

DALLAS (CNN) -- President Bush said Thursday he is working to ensure that no terrorist organization allies itself "with some of the world's worst leaders who harbor and develop the world's worst weapons."

"I'm just not going to let that happen," Bush told an enthusiastic crowd at a fund raiser for Texas Attorney General John Cornyn, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Republican Phil Gramm.

"We can't look back and say, 'How come we let this happen?' For the good of our children and grandchildren, we must deny the world's most dangerous leaders from harboring the world's most dangerous weapons," Bush said.

"We will be deliberate, we will be thoughtful, we will consult with our friends and allies, but when I said 'axis of evil,' I meant it."

Bush was referring to a phrase he used in his State of the Union Address in January in which he identified Iraq, North Korea and Iran as an "axis of evil."

Bush then reaffirmed that the United States will continue to seek peace in the Middle East. "I can assure you, we're not giving up," he said, referring to Wednesday's suicide bombing in Netanya, that killed 20 people. "We're not going to let murderers disrupt the march to peace," Bush said. "The best way to achieve the peace is to be strong and steadfast against terror."

In the battle against terror, Bush said, he is briefed daily by the directors of the CIA and the FBI. "We understand that we fight an enemy that are nothing but a bunch of cold-blooded killers. They can't be rehabilitated. They hate what America stands for."

The president credited "the bravery of United States soldiers" for routing the Taliban "out of existence."

Still, he said, more work remains. "There's a lot of people still on the loose who might hurt America."

Bush defended his call for a large increase in the defense budget. "Listen, there's never too high a price for freedom, as far as I'm concerned," he said to applause.

Nor is he working against any deadline to finish the job, he said. "So long as I'm the president, we will treat these killers as international terrorists and get them on the run, and keep them on the run until we bring each and every one of them to justice."

The Texas Senate race is critical to Republicans' hopes to retake control of the Senate, which the Democrats now control by a single seat. Gramm has announced he will not seek re-election to a fourth term in the Senate.




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