President Bush promised to do his "level best" Friday to bring every American soldier back from the Persian Gulf "without a shot being fired in anger."

"But we will not stop short of our stated objective," that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait, Bush told a GOP fund-raiser, drawing sustained applause. "We are the United States of America and we are standing for principle and that principle must prevail."The president's impassioned remarks followed several days of tough rhetoric against Saddam Hussein raising concerns that the United States was moving toward a military option.

Bush told a news conference in Cincinnati Thursday, "I am not trying to prepare our country for war," but aides said he was seeking to ready Americans for every possible eventuality.

Bush reiterated his resolve that Saddam's "naked aggression" must not stand.

The president has been sensitive to suggestions in recent days that he was seeking to exploit the gulf crisis for possible political gain in next Tuesday's election and Friday prefaced his remarks about the gulf by calling it a "non-partisan issue" and by saying he has received broad-based support from congressional leaders.

Bush was on a six-day cross-country campaign swing on behalf of Republican congressional and gubernatorial candidates in next week's election.