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Bush fights for relevance as America eyes his successor

With 12 months to go until America elects a new leader, George W. Bush refuses to be labelled a lame duck president and is vowing to work furiously in a final sprint before retiring to his Texas ranch.

Bush had appeared destined to live out the rest of his term in irrelevance after the Democrats took control of Congress from his Republican Party in the November 2006 legislative elections.

But Bush, armed with his veto power and a strong Republican minority, has fought back attempts by Democrats to force his hand on Iraq and other issues.

“Bush may be lame but he is fighting back,” said Eric Davis, a political science professor at Middlebury College in Vermont. Refusing to be relegated to the sidelines while the attention turns to who will win the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations, Bush has promised to be “getting some things done for the American people.”

“I’m going to work hard to the finish. I’m going to sprint to the finish line, and then you’ll find me in Crawford,” he told reporters on October 17, referring to his Texas ranch’s town.

Bush has set out an ambitious agenda for himself. On the domestic front, he is striving to beef up counter-terrorist activities, defend his tax cuts and reduce the budget deficit.

His foreign policy goals are daunting. His hopes include seeing North Korea get rid of its nuclear weapons program, Iraq and Afghanistan stabilize, and progress toward the creation of a Palestinian state. Battered by low approval ratings, Bush is also fighting for his legacy and aims to help his party retain the presidency in the November 2008 election, analysts say.

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