President Bush is focusing on the war on terrorism as he wraps up his post-State of the Union trip to three states crucial to his re-election hopes. During a stop in Roswell, New Mexico Thursday, the president revealed he will ask Congress for a substantial increase in funding for homeland security.
President Bush says he wants Congress to hold the line on government spending. But money for the war on terrorism is one big exception to the rule.
In an address to an audience made up largely of students from the New Mexico Military Institute, Mr. Bush said he wants a 9.7 percent increase in spending for programs designed to prevent another terrorist attack on American soil. He said the money will be included in the proposed federal budget for the next fiscal year that he sends to Congress on February 5.
"We understand our obligation in Washington," he said. "Our obligation is never to forget what happened on September the 11th. And our obligation is to support the homeland security people, those on the front lines, to prepare for a potential threat."
Public opinion polls show voters consider national security to be the president's strong suit, with high approval ratings for his handling of the war on terrorism.
Mr. Bush told the crowd at the Roswell Convention Center, that progress is being made on reducing the terrorist threat, including the ouster of dangerous governments in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the capture of several al-Qaida leaders and former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
"One by one, we'll bring them to justice," he said. "There is no hole deep enough to hide from America."
The president picked up on the themes of the State of the Union address he delivered Tuesday night. He warned terrorists are still plotting against the United States, but stressed America will prevail.
"My job as your president is to be realistic, be open-eyed, to understand the lessons of September the 11th, 2001; to understand there are terrorists who still plot against us," he said. "By our will, by our steadfast determination, by our courage, we will prevail in the first war of the 21st century."
Before traveling to New Mexico, Mr. Bush went on a campaign-like swing through Ohio and Arizona. In both states, he focused on the economy, and his plan to increase government funding for programs that help re-train workers who have lost jobs in the manufacturing sector.