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CNN Today

Bush Announces Big Spending Boost in Education

Aired February 21, 2001 - 2:11 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: President Bush has announced a big boost in spending on his education initiatives. Mr. Bush says in his 2002 budget, he'll propose an additional $1.6 billion for elementary and secondary school programs. That announcement came as the president toured a grammar school southeast of Knoxville, Tennessee.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve has been tracking Mr. Bush today and throughout his first month in office, and joins us now with more on Mr. Bush's day-- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, you may have thought that the political campaign was over. But another one is under way.

President Bush for the second day in the heartland, making the case for his programs, as you mentioned, in Townsend, Tennessee. Today, the subject was education.

His budget will be unveiled in its full detail next week. But he did say there would be $1.6 billion in additional spending for primary and secondary education.

But he said to ensure that that money is spent responsibly, there must be testing and accountability.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The cornerstone of reform, as far as I'm concerned, is not only high standards and maximum flexibility, but strong accountability systems.

I think it's so important to measure. I think it's a legitimate thing. I know it's a legitimate request; from those of us in public life to say if you receive taxpayers' money, you measure, and you show us whether or not the children are learning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE: Bush has been in office for a month now. And thus far, he has -- he has proved wrong his critics who predicted that he would bumble and stumble.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BUSH: You talk about subliminable. MESERVE (voice-over): It's been months since verbal gaffs on the campaign trail raised questions about George W. Bush's ability to lead and think on his feet.

Now after 30 days in office, he appears more sure-footed. The missteps have been few and quickly rectified.

BUSH: In five days, help is on the way.

MESERVE: Worries that he might backpanel on a pledge to boost Pentagon spending were calmed by images of the new commander in chief promising a bigger pay raise and a better quality of life for the troops.

Mr. Bush cut his political losses when Linda Chavez got in trouble over an illegal immigrant. The president barely blinked before he replaced her as Labor nominee, Elaine Chao, the wife of a senator; one easy confirmation.

The ink wasn't even dry on reports that Bush would close offices on AIDS and race relations, when the story was retracted before it could explode into something more damaging. The White House blamed it all on a misunderstanding by Chief of Staff Andrew Card.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are outraged.

And Bush has done his best to erase the bitter aftertaste of the tough post-election fight in Florida by courting Democrats in Congress.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: Whatever bumps in the road Bush has had, they've been completely overshadowed by the controversies surrounding his predecessor, Bill Clinton. But that has a downside for George W. Bush, because it has it made more difficult for him to focus attention on the sorts of proposals he was promoting today in Tennessee.

Lou and Natalie, back to you.

WATERS: All right, Jeanne Meserve, at her post in Washington.

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