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Reactions mixed to Bush's address

Biden says he thinks the wealthiest Americans would postpone their tax cuts to give Bush the money he wants.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush's address to the American people on the postwar effort in Iraq and the larger war on terrorism drew mixed reviews from members of Congress and some of the people who want to replace him in 2004.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, the early front-runner for the Democratic nomination, called Bush's remarks "nothing short of outrageous."

"In 15 minutes, he attempted to make up for 15 months of misleading the American people and 15 weeks of mismanaging the reconstruction," he said.

In his speech, Bush called Iraq the "central front" in the war on terrorism and said foreign terrorists were to blame for recent violence there. But Dean said the security vacuum caused by the war itself is to blame for that situation.

"The president has created a much more dangerous situation in Iraq," Dean said. "The president has created Iraq to be the front line of terrorism."

Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Connecticut, said Bush made a "honest presentation" of what will be required to bring stability to Iraq.

"The bottom line is that the president made it clear we're in it for the long haul," Shays said on CNN's "Larry King Live." "He is being honest and upfront about what we have to do to win. And I can't believe anyone thinks we have any desire to fail in Iraq."

Shays chairs the National Security Subcommittee of the House Committee on Government Reform.

The ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden of Delaware, also said the speech put the "right emphasis" in calling for more international involvement in post-war Iraq.

"[Bush] finally rejected the advice of the neoconservatives -- [Vice President Dick] Cheney and [Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld and others -- and he's going to the United Nations, which was inevitable," Biden said. "I wish we had done it earlier, but I give him credit for doing it now."

"Now I hope our French and German and other allies step up to the ball and are as magnanimous in acknowledging what we have to do now as the president was."

Biden also said he supported Bush's call for spending $87 billion on military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan next year, although he said the administration should consider deferring tax cuts to pay for it, instead of simply increasing the deficit.

"I think the American people are ready to sacrifice to win, and I think if we went back to the American people and said, 'Look, the very wealthiest among us, we're going to postpone your tax cut a year or two to pay for this,' I think they would embrace it," he said.

Democratic Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, who opposed the war and is a candidate for his party's presidential nomination, said the $87 billion is "more than the federal government will spend on education this year, twice as much as the federal government will spend on our roads, bridges, highways and public transit systems."

"The president is clearly making a judgment that it is more important for us to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan than it is to deal with the very serious problems that we have in the United States," he said on "Larry King Live."

Sen. John Kyl, R-Arizona, said Congress has no choice but to appropriate the money.

"The question is, do we dare risk failure in this war on terrorism? There isn't anything more threatening to American citizens than the terrorists, and it's going to take what it takes, whatever that number is," Kyl said on the same CNN program. "Defeat is not an option here. Pulling out is not an option."

Other reactions

• Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, issued a statement to say she was willing to work with Bush to get the money he wants for U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. But she said other countries must begin contributing to the effort. "I do not think the American taxpayer should be alone in support of this war and will work to ensure we have partners in this effort," she said.

• North Carolina Democratic Sen. John Edwards, a candidate for his party's presidential nomination next year, said Bush "retreated to the same rhetoric about progress and peace that do not match the reality occurring every day in Iraq. It is a country consumed with chaos, not a shining example of progress in the war against terrorism."

• Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, said he "had hoped to hear acknowledgment from the president of our failures in Iraq, the war on terrorism and the administration's concrete plans for solving them with our allies and through the United Nations." He continued, "It's not enough to go to the United Nations with a resolution. We must go with the right resolution, and it's not clear that this administration is ready to swallow its pride and do that. Words don't matter. We need deeds."

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