The Washington Post reports on President Bush's trip Annandale, VA, where he spoke "to an invitation-only crowd of more than 1,400 supporters after other Republican leaders predicted he would win big this fall in a state that has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in four decades." The President used the event at Northern Virginia Community College "to accompany his latest television advertisement, released yesterday in 18 states and on cable, which highlights the importance of encouraging private ownership and personal control." Bush "said government should empower people to take control of their investments, retirement plans and health care decisions." The Wall Street Journal says Bush's "Era of Ownership" agenda "the central economic theme" of Bush's re-election campaign." Bush "is pledging to create an 'era of ownership' that will include proposals to partially privatize Social Security, and liberalize tax breaks for health care, savings and job training." The Journal adds, "Most of the specific White House campaign proposals are likely to be small-scale, and will leave some of Mr. Bush's backers yearning for bolder steps to assuage voter anxiety over issues such as jobs, and lay the groundwork for a sweeping, conservative legacy."
Bush's trip received widespread local TV coverage in swing states. Most of it highlighted the President's focus on the growing economy, particularly the role of his tax relief measures. Typical of the coverage was WPXI-TV of Pittsburgh, PA, which reported that "Bush touted his plan to strengthen the economy" by "encouraging small businesses. Bush says he supports new measures like lower taxes that allow people to have control over their money." KOB-TV in Albuquerque, NM said the topic of Bush's forum "was the economy and lowering taxes." The President "says nobody should be taxed at a rate higher than 35 percent, and. . .permanent tax relief is necessary to achieve that." In Detroit, MI, WDIV-TV also noted Bush "used the time to tout the bush administration's stance on economic growth and tax relief."
New Ad Highlights Social Security Reform.
The Washington Times reports in its "Inside Politics" column that the Bush campaign released a new TV ad yesterday that highlights "a promised reform of the Social Security system that has essentially been abandoned since Mr. Bush took office in 2001. 'One of the most important parts of a reform agenda is to encourage people to own something,' the president says in the ad that will run in 18 key battleground states and on selected national cable stations. Specifically, Mr. Bush suggests owning a home, business, health care plan or retirement, telling his audience, 'If you own something, you have a vital stake in the future of America.'"
Bush Declines To Comment On Interest Rates, Says Economy "Getting Better." Reuters reports Bush "declined comment on Monday on the possibility of an increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve Board on Tuesday. 'Monetary policy is decided independently from the White House,' Bush told reporters when asked whether an increase in interest rates would help or hurt the US economy."
"Ask President Bush" Events Seen As Effective, But Highly Staged. USA Today this morning analyzes the "Ask President Bush" events, frequent at recent campaign stops, in which Bush "picks up a microphone, bounds onto a stage and engages his cheering audience in a rambling discussion of topics from Iraq to the economy, it comes off as relaxed, informal and largely spontaneous. . . . 'I feel like a talk show host,' Bush often says as he roams the platform in the center of the arena." But these forums "leave little to chance. The national Bush campaign staff works through a local Republican office to assemble an audience of 1,000 to 2,500 people, depending on the site. The party offers registered party volunteers two tickets and says more are available if volunteers want to bring open-minded friends. . . . The people chosen to tell their stories sometimes have to be prodded to hit the right notes. The president takes it all in good humor."