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Bush Says His Tax Cuts are Revitalizing the Economy

By Andy Lenderman
Journal Politics Writer
    President Bush touted his tax cuts for moving the U.S. economy forward and defended his decision to invade Iraq to 1,100 New Mexicans during a campaign stop in Albuquerque on Wednesday.
    "My whole focus on getting out of this recession was to help the economy grow so people can find work, and we're making progress," Bush told the enthusiastic crowd, referring to the downturn in the American economy following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
    "We've added 1.5— 1.5 million jobs since last August," he said.
    Bush spoke in an Eclipse Aviation hangar near the Albuquerque International Sunport, honoring a developing local business and making his third visit this year to a state he lost by only 366 votes in 2000. He got a strong introduction from Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M.
    "Faced with unimaginable problems, this man has never shirked ... and has proven that he is the kind of leader that our country needs," Domenici said. "He has taken the war on terrorism to the terrorists."
    Bush rolled his sleeves up as he launched into an hourlong speech and discussion with supporters, emphasizing his leadership during war, as well as on the economy. He was on the ground in Albuquerque for nearly three hours Wednesday afternoon before departing for a campaign stop in Arizona.
    "I know what I'm doing when it comes to winning this war," Bush said, referring to Iraq.
    He also took a few shots at his Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry.
    "I'm confident if we can get a lot of people to vote, we'll carry New Mexico this time," Bush said to applause. "Wasn't but about 300 votes last time."
    Bush then turned his focus to small-business success stories and New Mexico businessmen, including Rudy Gonzales of Albuquerque, president of Builtek Contractors, Inc.
    Gonzales told Bush he's hired 20 new employees this year.
    "That's why we've got to make sure tax policy does not harm small businesses," Bush said.
    "When you hear my opponent talking about taxing the rich," he added. ". . He's really taxing small businesses. See, they put out $2.2 trillion of new spending promises. He hasn't even got to September, by the way... "
    Bush talked from the stage with Vern Raburn, president of Eclipse Aviation in Albuquerque.
    "Here's a guy who said, 'I can build a better airplane,' '' " the president said to applause. "That's what you call a grand vision."
    Eclipse Aviation is building the Eclipse 500, a light six-seat business jet that company officials say will revolutionize air travel with a price of just more than $1 million.
    Discussing the war on terror, Bush said, "Nobody wants to be a war president." But he listed "three lessons" from the 2001 terrorist attacks:
   
  • "There's an enemy out there which hates us because of what we believe. And you cannot negotiate with them, you cannot talk sense into them."
       
  • "We must bring them to justice in places where they hide and plot, so we do not have to face them here at home."
       
  • "When we see a threat, we must take it seriously before it fully materializes ..."
        Bush said that begins to explain why he made the decision that Saddam Hussein was a threat.
        "By far, the vast majority of the members of Congress from both political parties, they took a good look at the intelligence. They looked at what I was looking at. We all came to the same conclusion, including my opponent."
        Bush criticized Kerry for voting against an $87 billion supplemental funding bill for troops.
        Kerry's New Mexico spokesman responded on the economic and war issues after Bush left Albuquerque.
        Kerry "has a plan to give 98 percent of Americans tax cuts," spokesman Ruben Pulido Jr. said. And the Bush administration has created record federal budget deficits amounting to $445 billion, he said.
        On supporting the troops, Pulido said, "It takes someone who's been there, who's been wounded in battle to know what the troops go through."
        Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, "will do a better job of working with our allies and letting them know the mutual interests of a safe Middle East," said Pulido.
        Bush took some wide-ranging questions and plenty of compliments from the overwhelmingly supportive crowd Wednesday after making his opening remarks.
        One man predicted Bush would win by a landslide; a woman said she prayed for him; and a boy asked to get his picture taken with the president.
        Another man introduced his mother and mother-in-law; one woman asked how the administration helped domestic violence victims; and a college student asked about how the disabled could be a part of the business community.
        About 35 people protested outside the Bush rally.
        Some of the protest signs read, "Stop the war machine" and "Bring the troops home now."
        Bush arrived at 1:11 p.m. on Air Force One at Kirtland Air Force Base and left at 3:58 p.m. for an evening campaign rally in Phoenix, joined by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
        McCain came with Bush to the Albuquerque rally, but sat in the audience and did not address the crowd.
        Before he left Eclipse headquarters, the president took a last question from Cassandra Dennis of Rio Rancho. Her husband, Army Capt. Dominic Dennis of the New Mexico National Guard, is currently serving in Iraq with the 515th Corps Support Battalion.
        "I want your prayers for him," Cassandra Dennis said.
        "You got it," Bush said, and told her to send a message to her husband: "The commander-in-chief is grateful and incredibly proud of his service."
        Journal staff writers Debra Dominguez and Andrew Webb contributed to this report.