Bush set out his goals for his final year in the White House [AFP]

George Bush, the US president, has laid out his goals for his final year in office in his annual State of the Union address.

He argued against pulling troops out of Iraq and urged congress to urgently pass an economic stimulus package aimed at helping boost the country's slowing economy.

However, opposition Democratic presidential hopefuls dismissed Bush's "failed policies" during the last seven years and said his speech was full of "empty rhetoric". 

Dennis Kucinich,  Ohio senator and former Democrat presidential candidate

"He seems to want to continue to want continue the war in Iraq and ramp-up for a war in Iran.

"I think that he ignored the grave situation which has resulted in the loss of 4,000 of our troops, the deaths of over one million innocent Iraqis, the destruction of our own economy over this war, and the destruction of America's relationship with the Arab and Muslim world.

"I think that we need to rebuild that and I think that America can rebuild that, but I don't see anything in that speech tonight that would indicate any willingness to take steps in that direction."

Asad Abukhalil, Middle East analyst from the Angry Arab News Service

"When he speaks about justice it is going to play very differently around the world ... long gone are the promises of exemplary democracy.

"I think people are going to see this is the end of the Bush administration and he is going out without a bang."

Hillary Clinton, New York senator and Democrat presidential candidate

"President Bush had one final chance tonight to acknowledge what the American people have known for years: that the economy is not working for middle-class families.

"Unfortunately, what he offered was more of the same, a frustrating commitment to the same failed policies that helped turn record surpluses into large deficits, and push a thriving 21st century economy to the brink of recession.

Phyllis Bennis, Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies

"It was a rather extraordinary repetition of his existing policies, there was nothing new in it.

"On Iraq, he claimed things were going well but this is of course a man who has said that he is relying on history to absolve him of this responsibility.

"On the question of Iran, he was quite overtly determined to repeat the threats against Iran. It was as if the National Intelligence Estimate that Iran does not have nuclear weapons programme simply had never been written."


Mitt Romney, ex-Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate

"I saw a president who recognises that Washington has been unable to deal with many of the problems we face.

"And whether that's the ongoing threat from al-Qaeda or whether it's the need to reform Social Security or the need to finally secure our borders and have an immigration policy that works, this was a president saying: 'You know what? Washington ought to get the job done. Washington is broken.'"

Dean Baker, economist from the Centre for Economic and Policy research

"Everyone knows how desperately he wants a stimulus package because everyone knows that if the economy is bad it is the party in the White House that pays on election day."

Barack Obama, Illinois senator and Democrat presidential candidate

"As I travel across the country, the American people want much, much more.

"They are anxious about their economic futures. They're seeing their homes foreclosed. They're seeing jobs contracting. They are concerned about being able to send their kids to college. What they want is leadership from the White House."

Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate

"I applaud the president's efforts on behalf of an economic stimulus package it's a valuable first step.

"And I hope that the Democratic leadership in Congress will co-operate with the president in a responsible manner."

John Edwards, former North Carolina senator and Democrat presidential candidate

"The president tonight renewed his call for an economic recovery plan. But the plan he and congress have offered leaves out tens of millions of Americans who need help the most.

" This plan would take months to have any impact, and the people I meet every day on the campaign trail do not have months to wait.

"These people are hurting now and need this help now."

Clark Judge, former speechwriter for president Ronald Reagan

"He laid out a number of things that are new including the economic section ... those are big ticket items.

"What struck me about his speech was how strong it was and how he didn't waffle. This was a speech given by a man who feels strong about his political position, his support."

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies