It's a tried and true approach, and the U.S. president did it again Friday to kick off a revived effort to counter slumping American support for a military campaign that has left more than 1,700 U.S. soldiers dead.
With a smiling Bush next to him, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said violence in Iraq was waning and echoed Bush's refusal to set a timetable for a U.S. troop pullout. Both vowed to stay the course.
"There are not going to be any timetables," Bush said. "I have told this to the prime minister. We are there to complete a mission, and it's an important mission."
Following up on the soft-spoken Iraqi leader's White House visit, Bush will address the nation Tuesday evening in a major televised speech on Iraq.
His aim is to stem a dramatic slide in public support and growing criticism of his Iraq policy, not only among opposition Democrats but also in his own Republican Party.
Polls now show that only about 40 per cent of Americans approve the way Bush is handling Iraq. In Congress, lawmakers increasingly question whether the administration really has an exit strategy.
Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld bore the brunt of the sour mood when he was peppered with probing, even hostile questions during congressional hearings Thursday.
"Quagmire", the dreaded word that summons the Vietnam war for Americans, was raised repeatedly during the sessions - not only by Senator Edward Kennedy, a Democrat who bitterly opposed the Iraq war, but also by Representative John McHugh, a Republican.
Rumsfeld brushed off the notion that Iraq is turning into a quagmire, saying such an assessment was "inconsistent with the facts". But General John Abizaid, chief of the U.S. Central Command, acknowledged that the lack of confidence in the Iraq mission in Washington has never been greater.
Commanders on the ground are "concerned about losing support at home" and "worry that we don't have the staying power to see the mission through", he told the House Armed Services Committee.
To regain public support, the White House hopes to draw attention away from Iraq's car bombs and shootings and remind Americans of the broader context that a democratic Iraq helps make the U.S. a safer place, an administration official told the Los Angeles Times.
Yet many experts believe the public mood can be lifted only if Iraq's security situation improves dramatically, paving the way for U.S. troops at least starting to come home.
Most Republican lawmakers still publicly back Bush on Iraq. But anger is growing, especially at the steady stream of positive spin from the White House - such as Vice President Dick Cheney's recent assertion that the insurgency was in its "last throes".
One of the nastiest blasts came from Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.
"The White House is completely disconnected from reality," he told the weekly magazine U.S. News and World Report. "It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is, we're losing in Iraq."
"If things don't start to turn around in six months, then it may be too late. I think it's that serious," Hagel said.