Presidency of George W. Bush

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Presidency of George W. Bush
43rd President of the United States
In office
January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009
Vice President Dick Cheney
Preceded by Bill Clinton
Succeeded by Barack Obama
46th Governor of Texas
In office
January 17, 1995 – December 21, 2000
Lieutenant Bob Bullock
Rick Perry
Preceded by Ann Richards
Succeeded by Rick Perry
Personal details
Born George Walker Bush
(1946-07-06) July 6, 1946 (age 76)
New Haven, Connecticut
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Laura Bush
Residence Crawford, Texas
Occupation Businessman (Oil, Baseball)
Religion United Methodist
Signature Presidency of George W. Bush's signature

The presidency of George W. Bush began on January 20, 2001, when he was inaugurated as the 43rd President of the United States of America. The oldest son of former president George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush was elected president in the 2000 general election, and became the second U.S. president whose father had held the same office (John Quincy Adams was the first).

After two recounts, Democratic presidential candidate Vice President Al Gore filed a lawsuit for a third. The Supreme Court's highly controversial decision in Bush v. Gore resolved the dispute. The Florida Secretary of State certified Bush as the winner of Florida. Florida's 25 electoral votes gave Bush, the Republican candidate, 271 electoral votes, enough to defeat Al Gore. Bush was re-elected in 2004. His second term ended on January 20, 2009.

As president, Bush pushed through a $1.3 trillion tax cut program, and the No Child Left Behind Act, and also pushed for socially conservative efforts such as the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act and faith-based welfare initiatives. Nearly 8 million people immigrated to the United States in 2000 –2005;[1] nearly half entered illegally.[2] During his two terms, the United States lost over six million manufacturing jobs, about one third of the total at the end of the Clinton Administration.[3]

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Bush declared a global War on Terrorism and, in October 2001, ordered an invasion of Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban, destroy Al-Qaeda, and to capture Osama bin Laden. In March 2003, Bush received a mandate from the U.S. Congress to lead an invasion of Iraq, asserting that Iraq was in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1441.[4]

Bush also initiated an AIDS program that committed $15 billion to combat AIDS over five years.[5] His record as a humanitarian included helping enroll as many as 29 million of Africa's poorest children in schools.[6]

On his second full day in office, Bush reinstated the Mexico City Policy; this policy required any non-governmental organization receiving US Government funding to refrain from performing or promoting abortion services in other countries.[7]

Running as a self-styled "war president" in the midst of the Iraq War,[8] Bush won re-election in 2004,[9] as his campaign against Senator John Kerry was successful despite controversy over Bush's prosecution of the Iraq War and his handling of the economy.[10][11]

His second term was highlighted by several free trade agreements, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 alongside a strong push for offshore and domestic drilling, the nominations of Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito, a push for Social Security and immigration reform, his administration's response to Hurricane Katrina, a surge of troops in Iraq, which was followed by a drop in violence, and several different economic initiatives aimed at preventing a banking system collapse, stopping foreclosures, and stimulating the economy during the recession.[12][13][14][15][16]

The approval ratings of George W. Bush have, at different points in time, run the gamut from high to all-time record low. Bush began his presidency with ratings near 50%.[17] In the time of national crisis following the September 11 attacks, polls showed approval ratings of greater than 85%, peaking in one October 2001 poll at 92%,[17] and a steady 80–90% approval for about four months after the attacks.[18] Afterward, his ratings steadily declined as the economy suffered and the Iraq War initiated by his administration continued. By early 2006, his average rating was near 40%, and in July 2008, a poll indicated a near all-time low of 22%. Upon leaving office the final poll recorded his approval rating as 19%, a record low for any U.S. President.[17][19][20]

Major issues of presidency

Major acts as president

State of the Union Addresses

International treaties signed

George W. Bush signed several international treaties, including but not limited to:

Major treaties withdrawn

  • ABM Treaty (2002) – limited anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems used in defending areas against missile-delivered nuclear weapons between the United States and the U.S.S.R.
  • United Nations Population Fund (2002) – promoted the human right of "reproductive health", that is physical, mental, and social health in matters related to reproduction and the reproductive system.

Major legislation

Legislation signed

Legislation vetoed

Republican seats in Congress[28]
Congress Senate House
107th 50[29] 221
108th 51 229
109th 55 232
110th 49 202

President Bush vetoed 12 pieces of legislation, four of which were overturned by congress:

Administration and cabinet

Cabinet meeting

Bush's Cabinet had included figures that were prominent in past administrations, notably former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who had served as United States National Security Advisor under Ronald Reagan. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had served as White House Chief of Staff and Secretary of Defense under Gerald Ford; Rumsfeld's successor, Robert Gates, served as Director of Central Intelligence under George H.W. Bush. Vice President Dick Cheney served as Secretary of Defense under George H. W. Bush.

Bush placed a high value on personal loyalty and, as a result, his administration had high message discipline. He maintained a "hands-off" style of management. "I'm confident in my management style. I'm a delegator because I trust the people I've asked to join the team. I'm willing to delegate. That makes it easier to be President," he said in an interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC in December 2003. Critics alleged, however, that Bush was willing to overlook mistakes made by loyal subordinates.[citation needed]

The Bush Cabinet
Office Name Term
President George W. Bush 2001–2009
Vice President Dick Cheney 2001–2009
Secretary of State Colin Powell 2001–2005
Condoleezza Rice 2005–2009
Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neill 2001–2002
John W. Snow 2003–2006
Henry Paulson 2006–2009
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld 2001–2006
Robert Gates 2006–2009
Attorney General John Ashcroft 2001–2005
Alberto Gonzales 2005–2007
Michael Mukasey 2007–2009
Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton 2001–2006
Dirk Kempthorne 2006–2009
Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman 2001–2005
Mike Johanns 2005–2007
Ed Schafer 2008–2009
Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans 2001–2005
Carlos Gutierrez 2005–2009
Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao 2001–2009
Secretary of Health and
Human Services
Tommy Thompson 2001–2005
Mike Leavitt 2005–2009
Secretary of Education Rod Paige 2001–2005
Margaret Spellings 2005–2009
Secretary of Housing and
Urban Development
Mel Martinez 2001–2003
Alphonso Jackson 2003–2008
Steve Preston 2008–2009
Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta 2001–2006
Mary Peters 2006–2009
Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham 2001–2005
Samuel Bodman 2005–2009
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi 2001–2005
Jim Nicholson 2005–2007
James Peake 2007–2009
Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge 2003–2005
Michael Chertoff 2005–2009
Chief of Staff Andrew Card 2001–2006
Joshua Bolten 2006–2009
Administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency
Christine Todd Whitman 2001–2003
Mike Leavitt 2003–2005
Stephen L. Johnson 2005–2009
Director of the Office of
Management and Budget
Mitch Daniels 2001–2003
Joshua Bolten 2003–2006
Rob Portman 2006–2007
Jim Nussle 2007–2009
Director of the Office of
National Drug Control Policy
John P. Walters 2001–2009
United States Trade Representative Robert Zoellick 2001–2005
Rob Portman 2005–2006
Susan Schwab 2006–2009

There was only one non-Republican in Bush's cabinet: Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, the first Asian American cabinet secretary, who had previously served as Secretary of Commerce under Bill Clinton, is a Democrat. Mineta resigned from Bush's cabinet on July 7, 2006 to pursue "other challenges".[40] Mary Peters, a Republican, was nominated and confirmed to succeed him as Transportation Secretary. At least one other non-Republican was apparently offered a position in the administration but declined. CNN reported that in the transition to his second term, Bush offered the positions of Ambassador to the United Nations and subsequently Secretary of Homeland Security to Senator Joe Lieberman, then a Democrat and currently an Independent Democrat.[citation needed]

In 2006, Bush replaced long-time chief of staff Andrew Card with Joshua Bolten and made major staff and cabinet changes with the intention of revitalizing his Administration.[41]

On November 8, 2006 (the day after the Democrats took back Congress in the midterm elections), Bush announced plans to replace Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with former CIA Director Robert Gates. Gates was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 6 and took office as the 22nd Secretary of Defense on December 18.[42]

Cabinet members

Attorney General

Bush's first Attorney General, John Ashcroft, was politically controversial, but viewed by many as incompetent.[43] According to the sworn testimony of two FBI agents interviewed by the 9/11 Commission, Ashcroft ignored warnings of an imminent al-Qaida attack.[44] Ashcroft resigned days after Bush's 2004 re-election. Bush's second Attorney General was Alberto Gonzales. In addition to his work on providing guidelines for detainee interrogation methods prior to his appointment,[45][46] he claimed there was no right to Habeas Corpus for detained combatants.[47] Michael Mukasey succeeded Gonzales and was the country's 81st Attorney General.


Bush's first nomination for Secretary of Labor was Linda Chavez. This nomination came under attack when evidence came to light that she had given money to an illegal immigrant from Guatemala who lived in her home. Chavez claimed that the woman was not an employee and she had merely provided her with emergency assistance due to the domestic abuse the woman had been facing at the time.[48] Chavez's nomination was withdrawn. Instead, Bush nominated Elaine Chao, a former official with the administrations with Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, who was confirmed by the Senate. Chao was the only member of Bush's Cabinet to serve during Bush's entire tenure as President.


Bush's first Secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham, was controversial at the time of his 2001 appointment because as a senator he co-sponsored S.896, a bill to abolish the United States Department of Energy, in 1999.[49] Samuel Wright Bodman III, Sc.D. replaced Abraham as United States Secretary of Energy in 2005 and remained in this position until January 2009. Bodman was previously Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Treasury.

Homeland Security

When Tom Ridge announced his decision to resign as Secretary of Homeland Security, Bush's first choice to replace him was Bernard Kerik, who served as Police Commissioner of the City of New York during the September 11, 2001 attacks. Kerik's nomination raised controversy when it was discovered that he had previously hired an undocumented worker as a nanny and housekeeper. After a week, Kerik pulled his nomination and Bush went on to nominate Michael Chertoff.[50]

Advisors and other officials

Military nominations and appointments

Supreme Court nominations and appointments

Bush nominated the following people to the Supreme Court of the United States:

Court of Appeals nominations and appointments


Federal Reserve appointment

On October 24, 2005, Bush nominated Ben Bernanke to succeed Alan Greenspan as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. The Senate Banking Committee recommended Bernanke's confirmation by a 13–1 voice vote on November 16, 2005. With the full Senate's approval on January 31, 2006, by another voice vote, Bernanke was sworn in on February 1, 2006.

First term (2001–2005)

Second term (2005–2009)

Political philosophy

The guiding political philosophy of the Bush Administration has been termed neoconservative. The specific elements of neoconservative leadership have been itemized in policy papers by leading members of the Project for a New American Century, and is represented in the editorial perspective of the political journal the Weekly Standard. Administration officials chosen from the membership of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) began with the selection of the candidate for vice president, Dick Cheney. Others included Richard Armitage, Zalmay Khalilzad, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Richard Perle, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz.

In 1998, members of the PNAC, including Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, wrote to President Bill Clinton urging him to remove Saddam Hussein from power using US diplomatic, political and military power.

In September 2000, the PNAC issued a report entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces, and Resources For A New Century, proceeding "from the belief that America should seek to preserve and extend its position of global leadership by maintaining the preeminence of U.S. military forces." The group stated that when diplomacy or sanctions fail, the United States must be prepared to take military action. The PNAC argued that the Cold War deployment of forces was obsolete. Defense spending and force deployment must reflect the post–Cold War duties that US forces are obligated to perform. Constabulary duties such as peacekeeping in the Balkans and the enforcement of the No Fly Zones in Iraq put a strain upon, and reduced the readiness of, US forces. The PNAC recommended the forward redeployment of US forces at new strategically placed permanent military bases in Southeast Europe and Southeast Asia. Permanent bases would ease the strain on US forces, allowing readiness to be maintained and the carrier fleet to be reduced. Furthermore, PNAC advocated that the US-globalized military should be enlarged, equipped and restructured for the "constabulary" roles associated with shaping the security in critical regions of the world.[51]

Environmental record

File:Us cabinet mtg.jpg
Cabinet meeting

George W. Bush’s environmental record began with promises as a presidential candidate to clean up power plants and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In a speech on September 29, 2000 in Saginaw, Michigan, Bush pledged to commit two billion dollars to the funding of clean coal technology research. In the same speech, he also promised to work with Congress, environmental groups and the energy industry to require a reduction of the emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and carbon dioxide into the environment within a “reasonable period of time.”[52] He would later reverse his position on that specific campaign pledge in March 2001 in a letter to Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel, stating that carbon dioxide was not considered a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, and that restricting carbon dioxide emissions would lead to higher energy prices.[53]

In 2001, Bush appointed Philip A. Cooney, a former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, to the White House Council on Environmental Equality. Cooney is known to have edited government climate reports in order to minimize the findings of scientific sources tying greenhouse gas emissions to global warming.[54]

In March 2001, the Bush Administration announced that it would not implement the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty signed in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, that would require nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, claiming that ratifying the treaty would create economic setbacks in the U.S. and does not put enough pressure to limit emissions from developing nations.[55] In February 2002, Bush announced his alternative to the Kyoto Protocol, by bringing forth a plan to reduce the intensity of greenhouse gases by 18 percent over 10 years. The intensity of greenhouse gases specifically is the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions and economic output, meaning that under this plan, emissions would still continue to grow, but at a slower pace. Bush stated that this plan would prevent the release of 500 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, which is about the equivalent of removing 70 million cars from the road. This target would achieve this goal by providing tax credits to businesses that use renewable energy sources.[56]

In late November 2002, the Bush Administration released proposed rule changes that would lead to increased logging of federal forests for commercial or recreational activities by giving local forest managers the ability to open up the forests to development without requiring environmental impact assessments and without specific standards to maintain local fish and wildlife populations. The proposed changes would affect roughly 192,000,000 acres (780,000 km2) of US forests and grasslands. Administration officials claimed the changes were appropriate because existing rules, which were approved by the Clinton administration two months before Bush took office, were unclear.[57]

In November 2004, Bush Administration officials asked the United Nations to allow US industries to use an additional 458 tons of methyl bromide, an ozone-destroying pesticide that was slated for elimination by the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The additional increase request brings the US’s total exemption for the year 2005 to 9,400 metric tons of methyl bromide, more than all other nations’ requests combined, and well over the 7,674 metric tons used by US agribusiness in 2002.[58]

In January 2004, United States Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton approved a move to open nearly 9,000,000 acres (36,000 km2) of Alaska's North Slope to oil and gas development, citing claims from the energy industry that nearly 13 billion barrels (2.1×109 m3) of oil could be extracted from the region. The North Slope borders the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a sanctuary and habitat for migratory birds, whales, seals and other wildlife. Reports from the U.S. Geological Survey, however, estimate that less than one-third of the reported 13 billion barrels (2.1×109 m3) is economically recoverable in the entire 23,500,000-acre (95,000 km2) National Petroleum Reserve.[59]

In July 2005 the Environmental Protection Agency decided to delay the release of an annual report on fuel economy. The report shows that automakers have taken advantage of loopholes in US fuel economy regulations to manufacture vehicles that are less fuel-efficient than they were in the late 1980s. Fuel-efficiency had on average dropped six percent during that period, from 22.1 miles per gallon to 20.8 mpg. Evidence suggests that the administration’s decision to delay the report’s release was because of its potential to affect Congress’s upcoming final vote on an energy bill six years in the making, which turned a blind eye to fuel economy regulations.[60]

That same year, the administration exempts hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act, citing another EPA study.[61]

In May 2006, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) allegedly blocked release of a report that suggested global warming had been a contributor to the frequency and strength of hurricanes in recent years. In February, NOAA (part of the Department of Commerce) set up a seven-member panel of climate scientists to compile the report. The panel’s chair, Ants Leema, received an e-mail from a Commerce Department official asking for the report to not be released as it needed to be made “less technical.”[62] NOAA would later go on to say that the report was not released because it “was not complete” and was in reality not a report, but a “two-page fact sheet about the issue”.[63]

On January 6, 2009, President Bush designated the world's largest protected marine area. The Pacific Ocean habitat includes the Mariana Trench and the waters and corals surrounding three uninhabited islands in the Northern Mariana Islands, Rose Atoll in American Samoa, and seven islands along the equator.[64]


On January 15, 2009, Bush gave a nationally televised farewell address. He discussed many of his decisions and said that he had kept the country safe since September 11, 2001. He said that the United States must continue promoting human liberty, human rights, and human dignity around the world. One of his final lines was "We have faced danger and trial, and there's more ahead. But with the courage of our people and confidence in our ideals, this great nation will never tire, never falter and never fail."[65][66] A January 2009 Gallup poll found Bush with an approval rating of 34%, with 75% of Republicans, 28% of independents, and 6% of Democrats registering approval for the outgoing president.[67] In a January 2009 CBS/New York Times poll, Bush received low marks for his handling of the Iraq War and the economy, though about half of Americans approved of his handling of the War on Terror.[68]

Following the end of his second term, Bush kept a low profile, and avoided criticizing his successor, Barack Obama.[69][70] In 2013 his favorable rating reached 49%, marking the first time since 2005 that more poll respondents approved than disapproved of Bush.[70] In 2015, Bush's younger brother, Jeb Bush, began a campaign for the presidency, and the legacy of George W. Bush loomed large over the younger Bush's campaign.[71] After leaving office, numerous former Bush administration officials wrote memoirs, some of them quite harsh in their judgments.[72][73]

Polls of historians and political scientists taken after 2005 have generally ranked Bush as a below-average president. A 2005 Wall Street Journal/Federalist Society poll placed Bush as the 19th best president.[74] In 2006, Siena College surveyed 744 professional historians; they regarded Bush's presidency to date as: Great: 2%; Near Great: 5%; Average: 11%; Below Average: 24%; Failure: 58%. Thomas Kelly, professor emeritus of American studies at Siena College, said that "In this case, current public opinion polls actually seem to cut the President more slack than the experts do." Similar outcomes were reported by two informal surveys done by the History News Network in 2004 and 2008.[75] A 2009 C-SPAN survey of historians ranked Bush in 36th place among the 42 former presidents.[76] In a 2015 survey of the American Political Science Association, Bush placed 35th out of the 43 people who had served as president.[77]

See also


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  28. Republican seats at the start of each session of Congress. Independents caucusing with the Democratic Party (Jim Jeffords, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Lieberman) are counted as Democrats for the purposes of this table. Throughout Bush's presidency, there were a total of 100 Senate seats in 435 House seats, so a Republican majority in the Senate required 50 seats (since Republican Vice President Dick Cheney could provide the tie-breaking vote), and a Democratic majority in the House required 218 seats (assuming no vacancies).
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  70. 70.0 70.1 Jackson, David (June 12, 2013). "George W. Bush's ratings improve". USA Today. Retrieved November 19, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  71. Martin, Jonathan (October 4, 2015). "A Conundrum for Jeb Bush: How to Use George W." New York Times. Retrieved November 19, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  72. George W. Bush, Decision Points (New York: Crown, 2010) is Bush's own memoir. Others include, in alphabetical order: John Ashcroft, Never Again: Securing America and Restoring Justice (New York: Center Street, 2006); L. Paul Bremer III with Malcolm McConnell, My Year in Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006); Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney, In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir (New York: Threshold Editions, 2011); Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror (New York: Free Press, 2004); Douglas Feith, War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism (New York: Harper Perennial, 2008); Ari Fleischer, Taking Heat: The President, the Press, and My Years in the White House (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2005); Robert M. Gates, "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War" (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014); Jack Goldsmith, The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration (New York: Norton, 2007); Richard N. Haass, War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraqi Wars (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009); Karen Hughes, Ten Minutes from Normal (New York: Viking, 2004); Scott McClellan, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception (New York: PublicAffairs, 2008); Richard B. Meyers with Malcolm McConnell, Eyes on the Horizon: Serving on the Front Lines of National Security (New York: Threshold Editions, 2009); Condoleezza Rice, No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington (New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2011); Condoleezza Rice, Inside the Mind of George W. Bush: 43rd President of the United States of America (2013) is a joke book (all the pages are blank) and was not prepared by Rice; Karl Rove, Courage and Consequence: My Life As a Conservative in the Fight (New York: Threshold Editions, 2010); Donald Rumsfeld, Known and Unknown: A Memoir (New York: Sentinel, 2011); Ricardo Sanchez with Donald T. Phillips, Wiser in Battle: A Soldier’s Story (New York: Harper Perennial, 2008); Hugh Shelton, Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior (New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2010); Ron Suskind, The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill (2004) New York: Simon & Schuster,comprises long interviews with O'Neill; John B. Taylor, Global Financial Warriors: The Untold Story of International Finance in the Post 9/11 World (New York: Norton, 2007); George Tenet with Bill Harlow, At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA (New York: Harper Perennial, 2007); Dov S. Zakheim, A Vulcan’s Tale: How the Bush Administration Mismanaged the Reconstruction of Afghanistan (Washington DC: Brookings Institution, 2011)
  73. Melvyn Leffler, "The Foreign Policies of the George W. Bush Administration: Memoirs, History and Legacy," Diplomatic History (2013) 37#2 pp: 190-216. DOI: 10.1093/dh/dht013
  74. url=|internetarchive= Leadership; The Rankings|publisher=Wall Street Journal Online|date=12 September 2005
  75. See results at "Experts: Bush Presidency Is A Failure Little Chance To Improve Ranking" Siena College Research Institute May 1, 2006
  76. Walsh, Kenneth T. (February 17, 2009). "Historians Rank George W. Bush Among Worst Presidents". US News and World Report. Retrieved November 19, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  77. Rottinghaus, Brandon (February 13, 2015). "Measuring Obama against the great presidents". Brookings. Retrieved November 16, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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