President Bush used his surprise Thanksgiving Day trip to Iraq to boost the morale of U.S. soldiers -- and tell Iraqi leaders they must seize the moment to build a free nation.
Flying back after visiting soldiers at a Thanksgiving celebration in Baghdad, Mr. Bush said he wanted U.S. troops to know America supports them in their battle against enemies he called thugs and assassins.
Mr. Bush told the soldiers they are engaged in a difficult and dangerous mission. But he said there would be no retreat.
During his Baghdad talks with members of the Iraqi Governing Council, Mr. Bush said he stressed U.S. resolve to restore security, and to help Iraqis establish a democratic government. Mr. Bush said he is confident Iraqis can govern themselves wisely and justly.
Political analysts say the unexpected trip tied success for the Bush presidency even more closely to events in Iraq, at a time when public doubt has been growing.
With the presidential election less than a year away, Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People and Press, says the more Mr. Bush can communicate concern for U.S. troops -- and make the right decisions in Iraq, the better his re-election prospects will be.
Information for this report is provided by AP.