The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bush blast backfires

Washington, July 3 (Reuters): President George W. Bush has used colourful language before to great effect, but he is taking some heat for his “Bring them on” challenge to Iraqi militants attacking US forces, who he said were tough enough to take it.

Even some aides winced at Bush’s words, which Democrats pounced on as an invitation to Iraqi militants to fire on US troops already the subject of hit-and-run attacks by Saddam Hussein loyalists and others. “These men and women are risking their lives every day, and the President who sent them on this mission showed tremendous insensitivity to the dangers they face,” said Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean.

Another Democratic presidential candidate, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, said condemned the comment, saying: “The deteriorating situation in Iraq requires less swagger and more thoughtfulness and statesmanship.” White House spokesman Ari Fleischer dismissed the criticism and said Bush viewed his comment as a way to express confidence in US troops.

“I think the men and women of the military are appreciative of the fact that they know they have a President who supports them as strongly as he does, and who has as much faith in their ability to complete the mission, despite some of the second-guessing that this President has,” Fleischer said.

Bush, a proud Texan with a penchant for plain talk, said on Wednesday: “There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is: bring them on. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation.”

In the days after the September 11, 2001, attacks he said the US wanted al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden “dead or alive” and vowed to “smoke” them out of their holes. University of Texas political scientist Bruce Buchanan, a longtime Bush watcher, said Bush uses such language when under strain.

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