Bush hurries back to campaign trail to spread convention speech message
September 3, 2004
MOOSIC, Pa. (AP) – President Bush began his post-convention campaign swing through three states he lost in 2000, telling a rally that he’s the choice to build America’s economy and keep the country safe from terrorists.
“If America shows uncertainty and weakness in this decade the world will drift toward tragedy,” he said. “This will not happen on my watch.”
Bush departed New York immediately after his Madison Square Garden speech and traveled to the battleground state of Pennsylvania, where he told an enthusiastic audience that “we’re coming down the stretch in this race.”
“It’s going to come down to the record we built, the convictions we hold and the vision that guides us forward,” he said.
Bush, who echoed many of the themes of his acceptance speech, said the tax cuts orchestrated by his administration were responsible for rebounds in the U.S. economy.
Just before Bush spoke, the Labor Department reported that 144,000 jobs were added in August. But that was slightly less than what economists were forecasting and it highlighted the slow and uneven recovery in the labor market.
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Putting a positive spin on the report, Bush noted that with revisions to job creation figures in July, which also were released Friday, more than 200,000 jobs were added during the past two months.
“Overall, we’ve added about 1.7 million jobs since August 2003. The unemployment rate is down to 5.4 percent. That’s nearly a full point below the rate last summer and below the average of the 1970s and 1980s and 1990s,” he said.
Bush’s Democratic rival had a different take on the jobs figures. Campaigning in Newark, Ohio, Sen. John Kerry emphasized that about 1 million jobs had been lost under Bush’s watch.
“President Bush is now certain to be the first president since the Great Depression to face re-election without creating a single job,” Kerry said. “If you believe lost jobs mean that America is heading in the right direction, you should support George Bush and his policies of failure.”
In choosing Pennsylvania for his first post-convention stop, Bush returned to a key state he has now visited 34 times. After Moosic, Bush was to make appearances at a convention center outside Milwaukee and a park in Iowa, signaling the breakneck pace he plans to keep until Nov. 2.
A marching band and conservative Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., warmed up the crowd, which packed the infield of Lackawana County Stadium, home of the Philadelphia Phillies AAA affiliate.
Bush’s supporters chanted “flip flop, flip flop,” when Santorum suggested that Kerry changes his stance on issues. They booed when Santorum, appealing to conservative Republican voters, noted that Kerry had voted against a procedure abortion foes have labeled “partial-birth abortion.”
Balloons were still drifting down from the rafters of Madison Square Garden as the convention closed late Thursday when Bush hurried back to the campaign trail to pedal the main message of his speech: that he has the steadiest hand to guide the nation in perilous times.
Accepting his party’s nomination for a second term at the GOP convention in New York, Bush told roaring delegates and a national TV audience, “I believe this nation wants steady, consistent, principled leadership and that is why, with your help, we will win this election.”
Speaking from a circular stage emblazoned with the presidential seal, Bush asked voters to reject Kerry’s “policies of the past.”
“We are on the path to the future – and we are not turning back,” Bush said, unveiling modest new proposals, including steps to tighten high-school testing, encourage investment in poor communities, reduce deficits and expand health care.
In his address, Bush issued an array of proposals for a second-term:
-Social Security: Meet an unfulfilled 2000 campaign promise by letting younger workers save some of their taxes in a personal account – “a nest egg you can call your own, and government can never take away.”
-Economy: Create jobs by encouraging investment, curbing federal spending, cutting regulation and making tax cuts permanent. He vowed to expand trade, end frivolous lawsuits and simplify the tax code, which he described as a “complicated mess filled with special interest loopholes.” Create “opportunity zones” that would use tax incentives to spur investment in poor neighborhoods.
-Education: Require states to add two tests in reading and math in high school and provide money to help reward good teachers.
-Health care: Spend $1 billion to help children get coverage, and make sure a community health center is open in every poor community.