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Bush Defends Handling of US Economy - 2002-08-10

President Bush is defending his handling of the nation's economy, as he prepares to host an economic conference in central Texas. The conference, to be held Tuesday in the city of Waco, is already generating some controversy.

The White House knows the economy could play a major role in Congressional elections in November.

Eager to boost the thin Republican majority in the House and regain control of the Senate, the Bush administration is seeking to portray the nation's economic health in the best possible light.

In his weekly radio address, recorded at his Texas ranch, the president said the U.S. economy is recovering from the damage done by the September 11 terrorist attacks and a series of corporate scandals that have shaken consumer confidence.

"The great strengths of America are more than equal to the challenges. American workers are productive; American entrepreneurs are visionary. And, we are acting to reach the full potential of the economy," Mr. Bush said.

The president said important legislation has cleared Congress in recent days, including a measure to combat corporate fraud. He said much more needs to be done, and, he said, the upcoming economic conference in Waco will provide an opportunity to explore new ideas.

"Economists will provide their latest ideas and analysis of the economic recovery. But I'm also eager to hear from Americans from all walks of life, who are working hard to make ends meet during these uncertain economic times," the president said. " And I expect I will get a wide variety of suggestions on strengthening the economy."

But there are signs the president will not hear much criticism of his economic policies. Congressional Democrats are not being invited and many of the people who will lead panel discussions at the conference are major contributors to the Republican Party.

The White House says the full list of participants will be released on Monday and promises a diversity of views. When asked if critics are being shut out of the conference, spokesman Scott McClellan said many different opinions will be heard.