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Bush Visits Three States Key to Re-election Bid - 2004-01-22


President Bush is crossing the country to visit states crucial to his reelection bid.

A day after using the annual State of the Union address to defend the war in Iraq and his economic policies, Mr. Bush headed to Ohio, New Mexico and Arizona in a two-day tour to promote his job training programs and the war on terror.

Speaking today (Wednesday) at a community college near Toledo, Ohio, the president said America's economy is strong, but conceded there are still troubled times in some parts of the country. He said some people are being left behind because they lack the skills to cope with changing technology. Ohio has been hit hard by manufacturing job losses.

Prominent Democrats have faulted the president for painting what they say is an unrealistically bright picture of his record in office.

One of the contenders for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, John Kerry, campaigning in New Hampshire, said Mr. Bush still does not know what is going on in living rooms across the country.

The Massachusetts senator -- who won the first Democratic Party election contest in Iowa Monday -- said Mr. Bush failed to deliver on a promise to create 250,000 jobs last month. Only one thousand new jobs were registered.

In the official response by opposition Democrats to the president's State of the Union address, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi criticized what she termed the president's "go-it-alone" foreign policy, saying it had forced America to bear the brunt of the costs of the Iraq war -- in dollars and human lives.

Speaking Tuesday to the U.S. Congress and an international audience, the president defended his decision to invade Iraq, saying the world is better off without the deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

On domestic policy, President Bush said his recent tax cuts are strengthening the economy, and he called on Congress to make those cuts permanent. He also called for new measures to promote job growth and health care benefits for senior citizens.

Within his Republican party, President Bush has no challengers to his reelection bid in November. Seven Democrats are vying for their party's nomination in state primaries across the country. The next primary is next Tuesday in New Hampshire.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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