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Inside Politics

Bush stumps in Rust Belt

On the verge of repealing steel tariffs

From John Mercurio
CNN Political Unit

President Bush speaks to GOP supporters at a $2,000-a-plate Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign luncheon in Dearborn, Michigan, Monday.
President Bush speaks to GOP supporters at a $2,000-a-plate Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign luncheon in Dearborn, Michigan, Monday.

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CNN's John King on President Bush being advised to head off a global trade war by rolling back steel tariffs.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush, said to be on the verge of repealing 20-month-old tariffs on imported steel, will be raising more than $2 million for his re-election campaign in two industrial swing states acutely affected by the decision.

Bush hosted a fund-raiser Monday in the automaking Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, which felt the sting of tariffs imposed by the Bush administration in early 2002 that hiked steel prices.

The luncheon drew 500 people and was expected to raise $750,000. Later Bush planned to discuss the economy at Dynamic Metal Treating in Canton, Michigan, before heading to the smokestack city of Newark, New Jersey, for a dinner expected to raise $1 million. Some 950 people are expected to join Bush for the New Jersey dinner.

Bush will be a headliner Tuesday in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, home of pro football's Steelers and once the bastion of the world's steel industry.

The event at the Westin Convention Center will be co-hosted by U.S. Steel Chairman and CEO Thomas Usher.

Repealing the tariff, while helpful to automakers, could produce a political backlash for Bush in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia steel country.

Bush is expected to decide on the tariffs before the World Trade Organization's dispute settlement body meets December 10, but a senior administration source told CNN Monday the move to repeal tariffs -- to head off a trade war that would have included foreign retaliation against products exported from politically crucial states -- is "all but a done deal."

Deadline looms

The European Union, Norway and Japan have set a December 15 deadline for threatened retaliation on billions of dollars of U.S. exports if the tariffs are not eliminated.

The WTO last month upheld its earlier ruling that the tariffs, currently set to expire in March 2005, violate global trading laws.

Bush so far has raised more than $100 million in his bid for a second term. He will return to the fund-raising circuit Friday, attending fund raisers in Miami and Baltimore.

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