USA Today 's Judy Keen writes, "President Bush tried at his news conference Wednesday to put to rest many of the controversies that have dogged him all summer." LINK "Bush leaves town Saturday for a month of relaxation at his ranch near Crawford, Texas. The vacation will be interrupted by six fundraisers for his re-election campaign and visits to seven states to paint a positive picture of his economic and environmental records."
"Before his departure, he seemed determined to put his interpretation on the issues that have been snaring headlines and driving down his poll ratings, so much so that he endured one of his least favorite Washington traditions — a formal news conference."
Keen then runs through the questions an "adviser said the president wanted to confront [ … ] head-on." Please go read them.
Dick Stevenson led with Bush's Iraq extrapolations. LINK The Chicago Tribune's Michael Tackett writes, "President Bush signaled unmistakably Wednesday that he would wage his re-election campaign under the banner of security, vowing to aggressively defend the country against attack and to work with equal vigor to repair the economy." LINK
The Boston Herald's Noelle Straub also has a pair of stories from the press conference. LINK and LINK Knight Ridder's goes bold and yields a single article covering all topics from the presser. LINK USA Today offers some sound bites. LINK The Washington Post editorial board throws in a nice "we told you so." LINK The Washington Times gave big play to the gay marriage issue. LINK The Los Angeles Times broke the story in three for some reason, with Ed Chen's version (leading with the economy) getting on the front LINK , Maura Reynolds inside starting with national security credibility LINK , and an unbylined sidebar on the president's acknowledgement "for the first time" that the tax cuts contributed to the deficit. LINK (Is it really the first time, Mike Allen and Trent Duffy?)
The New York Daily News's Ken Bazinet leads with President Bush's statement accepting responsibility for the bogus intelligence on uranium from Niger. LINK And his cohort Helen Kennedy follows up with the president's comments on gay marriage. LINK Harwood and Cummings described the president as "confident, even feisty" in the Wall Street Journal .
The Washington Post 's Mike Allen and Dana Milbank focus on President Bush taking responsibility for those 16 words in his State of the Union address and, despite some great details about the mood of the Rose Garden session, all but bury Bush's answer to Mike's question about spending $170 million to win the presidential nomination for which he's uncontested. LINK
ABC 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect:
Even with lingering criticism over his Administration's handling of Iraq — both intelligence and post-war organization — President Bush's support on Iraq remains high, according to a new Wall Street Journal /NBC poll. Sixty-six percent of Americans approve of the way Bush has handled the war on terrorism, and Republicans are cleaning up national security, though the view of Bush's foreign policy is a little dimmer — 55%, the Wall Street Journal 's John Harwood and Jeanne Cummings write.