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November 11, 2005
His Image Tarnished, Bush Seeks to Restore Credibility
By RICHARD W. STEVENSON and DAVID S. CLOUD
WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 - Faced with a bleak public mood about Iraq and stung by Democratic accusations that he led the nation into war on false pretenses, President Bush is beginning a new effort to shore up his credibility and cast his critics as hypocrites.
In a Veterans Day speech on Friday in Pennsylvania, Mr. Bush will take on a new round of accusations by Democrats that he exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, a senior administration official said Thursday, conceding that the Democrats' attack had left more Americans with doubts about Mr. Bush's honesty.
"It will be the most direct refutation of the Democrat charges you've seen probably since the election," the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to outline a strategy that has not yet become public and will play out over several weeks through presidential speeches, close coordination with Republicans on Capitol Hill and a stepped-up effort by the Republican National Committee.
...The White House's effort to stop the erosion is centered on defining the president's critics as Democrats who voted for the war based on the same intelligence Mr. Bush saw but have switched positions, often under pressure from their party's left wing.
"I point out that some of the critics today believed themselves in 2002 that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, said Thursday at a news briefing. "They stated that belief, and they voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq because they believed Saddam Hussein posed a dangerous threat to the American people. For those critics to ignore their own past statements, exposes the hollowness of their current attacks."