President Bush told an enthusiastic GOP rally Saturday that the first lady will accompany him on his Thanksgiving Day visit to American troops in the Persian Gulf region.
"Barbara and I are looking forward to visiting with those fine young people halfway around the world," Bush said, receiving a roar of approval.The high-profile visit will put an American president in a zone of potential conflict for the first time since Lyndon B. Johnson made a quick trip to Vietnam on Oct. 26, 1966, during the height of the war in Southeast Asia.
Anti-war protesters greeted the president at California Lutheran University, many of them holding signs reading "no more wars," or "U.S. forces out of the gulf."
But Bush received thunderous applause from the predominantly young crowd at the political event for GOP gubernatorial candidate Pete Wilson when he declared "I will not allow" Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's Aug. 2 takeover of oil-rich Kuwait to stand.
The president is on an eight-state campaign swing for Republicans.
And he has used much of his time in the past week trying to drum up support to build still strong yet slipping public backing for his policies in the Persian Gulf.
Bush told the university audience, "We hold no quarrel with the people of Iraq. Our quarrel is with Saddam Hussein and his determination to be the neighborhood bully."
Bush's campaign trip ends Tuesday in Texas.
At campaign stop after campaign stop - from a small school in Mashpee, Mass., to a big hotel in Orlando, Fla. - Bush said, "No one wants a peaceful solution more than I do," yet "no one is more determined than I am" to reverse Iraq's aggression.