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Last Updated: Friday, 7 July 2006, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Bush takes message out of capital
Mr Bush is greeted on landing in Chicago
Mr Bush is trying to reconnect with American voters
US President George W Bush has met local leaders in Chicago in what is being seen as part of a new media strategy ahead of November's elections.

He took questions from the White House press corps and from Chicago-based reporters at the city's Museum of Science and Industry.

Officials said the visit was the first in a series of similar presidential trips around the US over the summer.

Mr Bush is battling low approval ratings partly fuelled by the Iraq war.

He opened his comments by acknowledging it was unusual to meet the press in places such as Chicago.

"I'd like to see what it's like to have a major press conference outside of Washington. Might do me some good. Might do the White House press corps some good too," he said.

His spokesman Tony Snow had said earlier Mr Bush enjoyed getting away from Washington to meet people.

"These trips are good for the president, getting out of the (Washington) Beltway, talking to people about their lives, hearing their stories, being able to share ideas with local leaders," Mr Snow said.

"That's something that he likes to do, and he'll do more of it."

Danger zone

Mr Bush's ratings have risen a little in recent weeks, but are still around 40%, which analysts consider a danger zone for fellow Republicans seeking to maintain control of Congress this year.

A Chicago reporter asked him if he was offended by reports that Illinois' Republican candidate for governor did not want him to campaign for her.

"I was invited, I gladly came and I think we are going to have a pretty successful fundraiser for her, " Mr Bush said.

On foreign policy, he faced questions about North Korea's missile launches, Iran's nuclear ambitions and attempts to stabilise Iraq.

He repeated long-standing administration positions on each in turn.


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