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Bush to begin international push for Iraqi regime change

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In the coming days, President Bush and members of his administration will push their case for regime change in Iraq, culminating in a speech at the United Nations next Thursday where the president will argue that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is a menace to the entire world.

On Friday, Bush will call the leaders of Russia, China and France.

Saturday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair will visit with the president at Camp David, and top administration officials -- including Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell -- will make the rounds on the Sunday morning news shows.

On Monday, Bush will meet in Detroit with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

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"My point is not only will I consult with Congress and talk to Congress ... I will also see many of the leaders of the world and remind them of the facts," Bush said Thursday during a political fund-raiser in Louisville, Kentucky.

In another appearance Thursday in South Bend, Indiana, Bush called Saddam "a person who has ignored all admonitions by international organizations."

"There will be a good debate, but I firmly believe that the world cannot allow the world's worst leaders to hold America blackmail, threaten America, threaten our peace and threaten our friends and allies with the world's worst weapons."

Next Thursday -- a day after one-year commemorations of the September 11 terrorist attacks -- Bush will address the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Aides say he will tell world leaders that Saddam is not just a threat to the United States, but to the world, and that the Iraqi leader has a history of violating U.N. agreements.

He will also tell them the very credibility of the United Nations is on the line in how the organization decides to deal with Saddam, according to aides.

Bush said Wednesday that he would seek a resolution from Congress supporting efforts to change the regime in Iraq. Administration officials said the resolution will have broad language, including the option of using military force to overthrow Saddam.

The administration has been criticized, both in the press and by some members of Congress, for presenting a mixed message on Iraq.

Powell called for a return of U.N. weapons inspectors while Cheney and Rumsfeld pressed the case for military action against Iraq.

The White House strongly denied a split among Bush's advisers and sought to present a united front in briefings to returning legislators on Capitol Hill.

Over the next weeks, while traveling the country on behalf of Republican candidates in the midterm elections, Bush will simultaneously try to sell his argument for regime change in Iraq, as he did Thursday in Kentucky and Indiana.

In Louisville, Bush raised $450,000 for GOP Rep. Anne Northrup, seeking a fourth term. In South Bend, he headlined an event raising $330,000 for a Republican House candidate, Chris Chocola, and $220,000 for the Indiana GOP.

Both races are considered critical to efforts by Republicans to hold their narrow margin in the House.

--CNN White House Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux contributed to this report.




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