President Obama said Tuesday that he will not be taking a “victory lap” when he addresses the nation from the Oval Office on the Iraq war.
Obama made the comments during a visit to U.S. troops in Fort Bliss, Texas, just hours before he is to speak to the public about the end of the combat mission in Iraq.
The president previewed some of Tuesday night’s speech in his remarks, including his warning that there are still tough days ahead in Iraq.
“I know that, as I said at the beginning, our task in Iraq is not yet complete,” Obama said. “Our combat phase is over, but we've worked too hard to neglect the continuing work that has to be done by our civilians and by those transitional forces.”
Obama called Bush from Air Force One en route to Texas, but White House aides said the details of the private call will not be released. Republicans have said Obama should thank and give credit to Bush for the 2007 surge of troops to the country, which they argue provided stability to the country.
The president's main message to the troops — and one he will likely devote much of Tuesday night's address to — was one of gratitude.
“You are welcome home with open arms from every corner of this country,” Obama said. “People could not be prouder of you. And we are grateful.”