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In a speech written himself and previewed by senior Democratic officials, Webb, a freshman senator, acknowledged some of Bush's domestic policy proposals. "We in the Democratic Party hope that this administration is serious" about improving education, health care and speeding the recovery of hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, he said.
Webb also challenged Bush to support the House-passed minimum wage increase and nurture an economy that restores the middle class. And he said Democrats would work with Bush to promote energy independence.
But he chose harsher rhetoric for what he framed Bush's abuse of the public's loyalty, trust and welfare in the rush to war.
"The war's costs to our nation have been staggering," he said. "Financially. The damage to our reputation around the world. The lost opportunities to defeat the forces of international terrorism, and especially the precious blood of our citizens who have stepped forward to serve."
Democrats also hammered home a message that achieving bipartisanship must be as much a part of Bush's agenda as proposals on the war, energy independence and health care.
"It will be clear to us whether he's ready to work cooperatively to do that or if he's saying, 'I'm the decider,'" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, quoting Bush's famous retort on Iraq.
Webb, whose son is now serving in the military in Iraq, in a suggestion-veiled threat, said Bush should take "the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world."
"If he does, we will join him," Webb said. "If he does not, we will be showing him the way."
The speech capped the Democrats' effort to have the first, most frequent and last words on the president's annual address.
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2 ... s/main2391965.shtml