Bush Touts Accomplishments, Calls For Changes In Overtime Rules On Midwest Tour
President Bush was in Ohio and Michigan yesterday, touting his economic policies and his leadership in the war on terror, and promoting his plan to allow workers to receive time off instead of overtime pay. The Los Angeles Times reports this morning that Republicans hope the idea "will appeal both to Bush's core business supporters and to swing voters juggling home and work responsibilities. The idea is also part of a broader effort to cast key elements of Bush's domestic agenda as ways to help workers adapt to big changes in the US economy, such as the diminishing number of families with a stay-at-home parent."
The Ohio event, says the New York Times, looked like a "talk show." The "Ask President Bush" event "was light on questions but heavy on testimonials from preselected audience members about how the president's policies had improved their lives. Pacing in his shirt sleeves, microphone in hand, in the middle of an invited crowd of 2,500 at the Aladdin Shrine Center, Mr. Bush seemed a combination of Oprah Winfrey and a salesman, offering himself to a state that has lost 225,000 jobs since he became president."
In Michigan, Bush "ventured into Democratic strongholds," says the AP, "to attract crossover voters with a message that was tough on terrorists and full of hope for more prosperous times. . . . The Saginaw-Bay City-Midland area of Michigan, a blue-collar, traditionally Democratic zone, has lost more than 8,000 manufacturing jobs." The Detroit Free Press says the Saginaw area "is a stronghold of organized labor and voted for Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election," but "it has a culturally conservative streak that Bush is trying to ride." The Detroit News, meanwhile, reports Bush matched "his rival blow for blow in Michigan," because Sen. Kerry "drew a crowd of thousands in Grand Rapids, traditionally a Republican bastion," but the President "duplicated that feat in Democrat-leaning Saginaw."
Clinton Criticizes Bush's Overtime Proposals.
The Dallas Morning News reports that even before Bush held his first campaign event yesterday, Sen. Hillary Clinton "panned the administration's call for flex time and comp time" in a conference call arranged by Kerry's campaign. Clinton portrayed the plan "as a Republican bid to help businesses by cutting overtime pay. 'Life has gotten tighter for middle-class families, and this administration has stood on the sidelines,' she said."
In Ohio, Bush Reiterates Stance On Gay Marriage. CBS Evening News reported last night on the politics of the state of Ohio, a key battleground state, where "this week's primary. . .drew the highest turnout in 24 years, and voters spoke loud enough to be heard all the way to Massachusetts. Voters here, more than two to one, chose to amend their state Constitution. Starting September 2, 'A marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman.'" Two other "critically important" battleground states Ohio and Michigan "may have a same-sex referendum" next November. Today, President Bush "in Ohio reiterated his position against gay marriage and for a Federal constitutional ban. Senator Kerry, against gay marriage but for civil unions, talked about family values." Kerry: "You don't value families when you deny seniors prescription drug coverage." Axelrod: "But he never defined what a family is. The Senator's got a more complex job than the President on this one, keeping his coalition together. But what Missouri raises, is that may be more important than first thought as he whistle stops toward November."
GOP Working To Sign Up Amish Voters In Pennsylvania And Ohio.
The AP reports this morning that Amish voters "almost always side with the Republican Party when they do vote making them an attractive, if unlikely, voting bloc in the neck-and-neck campaign between President Bush and Democratic nominee John Kerry. . . . 'Pennsylvania and Ohio are just absolute battleground states, and to think that the Amish could weigh in to the tune of thousands of votes that are clearly going to be Republican that could be very significant for Bush,' said Chet Beiler, a former Amish who has been dropping off voter registration forms at Amish businesses and farms in hopes of signing up as many as 3,000 new voters." The AP adds that "hot-button social issues, coupled with gentle prompting from people like Beiler, are galvanizing some Amish to register to vote." Democrats "have all but ceded the Amish vote to Republicans."