Bush Launches Campaign Promoting U.S. Role in Iraq

President Bush on Monday begins a series of speeches to convince Americans, worried about reports of daily bombings in Iraq, that the United States is on the right path to defeat terrorists and insurgents there.

Bush's first speech in the new campaign will focus on work that the Iraqi security forces are undertaking to quell sectarian strife, including the Feb. 22 bombing of a Shiite shrine that killed about 500 people and threatened to push the nation to civil war.

"There's no question there was violence and killing," Bush said of the mosque attack at the National Newspaper Association's government affairs conference. "The society took a step back from the abyss and people took a sober reflection about what a civil war would mean."

Two more speeches Bush is planning later this month come as the administration is marking the three-year anniversary of March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the toppling of Saddam Hussein. And the new public relations campaign, which will include speeches by other top administration officials, comes as Bush is seeing declining public support for the war.

About four in 10, 38 percent, support Bush's handling of Iraq, according to AP-Ipsos in early February — about where he's been on that measure in recent months. Support for handling Iraq had slipped to the low 30s in other polling.

Bush will use his Saturday radio address to preview the series of speeches to update the American people on U.S. strategy in Iraq. Also on Saturday, the president will be briefed by Ret. Army Gen. Montgomery Meigs, former commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe, who heads a task force to counter devastating roadside bombs that kill coalition forces and Iraqi civilians.