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Bush: Troops 'securing' U.S. ideals

Democrats: Administration not doing enough to support veterans

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Patty Murray
George W. Bush

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. military is "securing" promises of the Declaration of Independence for both Americans and Iraqis, President Bush said in his weekly radio address Saturday.

"A new generation of Americans is defending our freedom against determined enemies," Bush said. "And by freeing millions from oppression, our armed forces are redeeming a universal principle of the declaration that all are created equal, and all are meant to be free."

Bush drew comparisons between U.S. forces in the Middle East and those who served in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and World War II. And he urged the nation to find a way Monday, the Fourth of July, to thank troops, "by flying the flag, sending letters to our troops in the field or helping the military family down the street."

With polls showing a majority of Americans now opposed to the war, and more and more politicians calling on the White House to formulate a clear exit strategy, Bush has launched a new effort to boost optimism about Iraq. (Full story)

While the president focused his remarks on Americans stationed in the Middle East, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, demanded that the Bush administration give military veterans as well as current troops "more than just words of thanks and photo-ops."

"Caring for our veterans is the duty of a grateful nation," Murray said in Saturday's Democratic weekly radio address. "Unfortunately, the Bush administration and congressional Republicans have not lived up to this duty."

Calling attention to the president's budget for veterans' affairs, Murray denounced Bush's plan as a "train wreck."

"The Veterans Affairs Department finally admitted it was more than $1 billion short of funds for this year," she said. (Full story) "At a time of war, with more and more veterans returning every day from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, ensuring access to quality health care is more important than ever."

This "deliberate misdirection or gross incompetence," said Murray, is only symptomatic of how American efforts in Iraq have been managed.

She reiterated the concerns voiced recently by other lawmakers, including some Republicans, about the continuing insurgency in Iraq and growing public impatience with the situation there.

"The president has an obligation to our troops, their families, and to the American people, to tell the truth about the costs and sacrifices necessary to win the war in Iraq," Murray said.

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