President Bush kicks off campaign in earnest in Niles

Published 1:07 pm Tuesday, May 4, 2004

By By JAN GRIFFEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- It all starts here.
President George W. Bush kicked off his re-election campaign in earnest in Niles Monday, the first stop on his Yes, American Can bus tour.
Later in the day, he made his way to Kalamazoo and Sterling Heights, where he spent the night before traveling today to Ohio.
The president's remarks in Niles acknowledged the state's significant loss of manufacturing jobs, but told residents here Americans have reasons to be hopeful.
He also spent time defending his attack of Iraq and vowed to stay the course in fighting terrorism.
The president arrived in Niles in an eight-bus motorcade down 17th Street to the high school on Eagle Street. All of the way was lined with Niles area residents hoping to get a glimpse of this country's 43rd president.
Among those waiting roadside for the presidential motorcade were Niles Community Schools children from Oak Manor and Eastside schools, to whom the president waved greetings from the front window of his bus.
When the president arrived at Niles High School, about 300 students -- juniors and seniors who later watched the president's speech from the school's auxiliary gym -- were waiting outside for his arrival. The president and Mrs. Bush spent about five minutes shaking student's hands, signing autographs and posing for pictures.
Once inside the high school gym, which was filled with about 1,000 of the Niles area's most ardent Bush supporters, the president asked for help.
First Lady Laura Bush introduced her husband in Niles Monday.
The President then set about outlining his priorities for another term in office, which includes continuing fighting terrorism, growing the economy through tax cuts for individuals and small businesses, support for job training and community college educations and getting an energy policy through Congress that both provides for long-term development and short-term, environmentally-responsible exploration.
He said when he ran for president four years ago, "I never dreamed I would be standing here four years later, saying we're at war. It's my job to make sure America is a safer place by defeating the enemy."
About Iraq, Bush said," Saddam Hussein, as he had for nearly a decade, defied the demand of the free world. And so I was faced with a choice: Do I trust a mad man who had used weapons of mass destruction and who had professed his hatred for America and who had ties to terrorist organizations and who had funded suicide missions, or defend American. Given that choice, I will defend America every time.
He said American will stand firm by its June 30 deadline of turning the governing of Iraq back to the sovereign people of Iraq.
Turning his attention to the economy, Bush said there are many indicators America's economy is strong and growing stronger, "but my attitude, statistics are good, but it's not good if you're looking for work."
He said Americans should stop and think about what our economy has been through.
Bush said the best way to generate economic growth "is to let Americans keep more of their own money." He said his tax cuts came at "absolutely the right time."
He called for tort reform, an comprehensive energy policy, which he said is bottled up in the U.S. Senate, and medical liability reform.
Six area residents, each of whom have benefitted from Bush tax cuts or other initiatives were invited to attend the event. And later, the president took a handful of questions from the audience.
The President thanked Niles' Congressman Fred Upton, who he called "a good hand," in Congress. Upton flew in with the President on Air Force One, as did South Bend, Ind., Congressman Chris Chocola.
Bush also thanked Niles city and school officials, and pointed out Niles Mayor Mike McCauslin in particular. Calling him Mayor Mike, he said, "I like to tell mayors, 'Fix the potholes.' "