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Bush to address nation on Iraq

Speech comes as Congress considers resolution

From Kelly Wallace and Suzanne Malveaux (CNN Washington Bureau)

Aides say President Bush wants to talk directly to the American people about Iraq.
Aides say President Bush wants to talk directly to the American people about Iraq.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush will deliver a "comprehensive" address Monday night from Cincinnati, Ohio to "talk directly to the American people" about the "growing threat" posed by Saddam Hussein, senior administration officials said Friday.

The speech, part of Bush's public relations campaign for his Iraqi policy, comes on the eve of votes in the House and the Senate on a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq and as the administration faces an uphill battle getting support for a tough new U.N. resolution to deal with Saddam.

One U.S. official said the president won't reveal any "explosive" new evidence about the threat posed by what the administration has described as Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and won't unveil any new U.S. policy, but will "urge the American people to make sure they are heard" as the country and the U.N. debate what to do about Saddam.

The speech is not to suggest that any action is "imminent" but is part of the "educational process... about why (Saddam) and his regime pose a unique threat and why we must confront it," the senior official told CNN.

Aides said the president understands the role he can play in addressing some concerns on the part of the public, such as why the administration believes action is necessary now.

"What he is going to do ... in a very logical way is talk about why this is a unique threat," the official said.

The administration has not asked the broadcast for time to air the president's remarks, the official said.

Aides compare the speech in tone and substance to Bush's evening address in November 2001, when he talked about what the federal government was doing to improve the nation's homeland security. In that speech, he did not unveil any new major policy for his administration, but he talked more generally to calm nervous Americans.

Aides chose Cincinnati as the site for the speech because it is a "typical representative community."

Bush also plans to devote his weekly radio address Saturday to Iraq, urging lawmakers to give him the authority he believes he needs to deal with Saddam.



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