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Bush Continues Tax Cut Campaign
Aired May 12, 2003 - 19:19 ET
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ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: President Bush continued his tax cut campaign today with stops in New Mexico as well as Nebraska. He's going to speak in Indiana tomorrow. White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reports on the tactics behind this trip.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, all.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Across America, President Bush is promising jobs. More than a million, in fact, by the end of next year.
BUSH: The best way to stimulate this economy is to have robust tax relief for the American people.
MALVEAUX: The president's three-state swing through New Mexico, Nebraska and Indiana is part of a White House strategy to push as big a tax cut package as possible through Congress.
BUSH: The unemployment rate hit 6 percent. That should serve as a warning signal for the reluctant members of the United States Congress that we need to hear the voices of those who are looking for work.
MALVEAUX: On Friday, the House approved a $550 billion version. The president originally proposed a larger plan, but has accepted the House's package.
The Senate began its debate this week over its $350 billion plan. The president's first stop, a warehouse company just outside Albuquerque, New Mexico. His performance here is key, because Mr. Bush lost this state to Al Gore by just 366 votes in 2000. The latest polls now show that if Mr. Bush is to win reelection, he will need to address voters' most pressing concern, the economy; 48 percent say the economy and unemployment are the most important problems facing the country today. Only 8 percent say terrorism, 7 percent Iraq.
At the president's second stop, Air Light Plastics in Omaha, Nebraska, controversy took center stage even before the president arrived.
MALVEAUX: Well, workers there were told that if they were going to attend the president's address, they would have to take a vacation day or unpaid leave. Well, publicity over the flap, managers have now flipped their own decision and say that they are paying their employees. A White House spokeswoman saying that the Bush administration had nothing to do with that decision, but that it was the right one -- Anderson.
COOPER: I know small businesses have to cut every corner they can, but that seems pretty severe. Was the White House aware of that? I know you said it sort of erupted before they got there.
MALVEAUX: Well, certainly, they became aware of it. It really was no secret that that was brewing, and it had been brewing over the last 24 hours. It gained a lot of publicity. Again, the White House saying, you know, they were not involved in that, but you can bet the spotlight on that company. They reversed their position.
COOPER: All right, Suzanne Malveaux, thanks very much.
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