President Bush and his presumed Democratic opponent, Senator John Kerry, laid out competing economic plans aimed at creating jobs Friday in separate campaign appearances around the country. We get the latest on the 2004 presidential race now from National correspondent Jim Malone.
Senator Kerry unveiled his new job-creation proposals in a speech in Michigan, a state that has been hit hard by the transfer of jobs overseas in recent years.
The Massachusetts Democrat says his plan would create 10 million jobs over four years by cutting corporate taxes and eliminating tax loopholes that encourage companies to transfer jobs overseas.
"Our present leadership has given us wedge issues designed to divide Americans," he said. "Instead of a real economic plan, they have given us the old politics of negative attacks. The truth is this president does not have a record to run on but a record to run from and that is what he is doing."
Senator Kerry again promised that he would repeal President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy but would retain the tax cuts for lower and middle-income Americans.
President Bush offered a competing economic vision at a rally in New Mexico. The president says his tax cuts have stimulated the U.S. economy, expanded the small business sector, fueled economic growth and set the stage for the creation of new jobs.
"Seventy percent of new jobs in America are created by small business owners and therefore, if you are worried about job creation, it makes sense to stimulate the small business sector of this country and the tax relief did exactly that," he said.
Along with the war on terrorism and Iraq, the economy is likely to be a major issue in the November election.
The dueling speeches on the economy came one day after Democrats held a unity fundraising dinner in Washington featuring a number of party luminaries, including Senator Kerry, former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and the 2000 Democratic candidate for president, former Vice President Al Gore.
Bill Clinton cautioned Democrats that Republicans will try to portray Senator Kerry as too liberal and out of the mainstream in the months leading up to the November election.
"And they are going to do their darndest to turn a good man into a cartoon. They love power," said Mr. Clinton. "They know how to get it and they know how to keep it. Our party has a new leader. We know we are going in the wrong direction. He knows what to do to turn it around."
Both sides are preparing for a close election in November and some recent polls in several key states seem to support that notion. Polls in so-called battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida indicate the president and Senator Kerry are running neck-and-neck at the moment, indicating both candidates will be making a lot of visits to those states between now and November.