Response to President Bush's Press Conference

October 28, 2003

DENVER—Democratic Presidential Candidate Governor Howard Dean, M.D., issued this statement following President Bush's press conference today.

“Yesterday, the President claimed that the wave of attacks that left dozens dead and scores injured proved that the US was winning the peace in Iraq. At this point, nothing he says really surprises me anymore.

“Today, we heard him try to walk away from the USS Abraham 'End of Major Combat Operations' announcement, absurdly claiming that the White House was not responsible for the 'Mission Accomplished' banner that decorated the flight deck. He tried to argue that our actions are supported by the Iraqi people, when poll after poll suggests that more and more Iraqis are becoming fed up with the American occupation. And he was adamant that the US will remain in Iraq, but failed to offer any insight as to what he would do to address the increasingly dire situation.

“This President appears to lack the leadership skills required to do what is necessary to successfully stabilize and reconstruct Iraq before the window of opportunity closes. Instead, President Bush seems content to pursue the current flawed plan, unwilling to do what is necessary to encourage our friends and allies to assist, incapable of taking the steps necessary to expedite the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis, and content to direct billions of dollars to special interests like Halliburton. And US troops and taxpayers are suffering as a result.

“We need a president who will show true leadership and make the tough choices. In Iraq, this means turning over planning and oversight of reconstruction to the State Department; doing everything in our power to encourage our allies and friends to join us in Iraq by sending their troops, their money, and their expertise to accelerate the reconstruction process; restoring law and order and the resumption of basic services that are fundamental to success in all other areas; turning over sovereignty to the Iraqis as soon as possible; and awarding reconstruction contracts—not to special interests like Halliburton—but to the best US or foreign bidder.

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