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Bush Speech to Focus on War, Economy - 2002-01-29

White House aides say President Bush will focus on the war against terrorism and the American economy in his first State of the Union address.

The President goes into this address with public opinion polls giving him extraordinarily high marks for his handling of the war in Afghanistan. But there are many questions still unanswered about where the war on terrorism goes next.

Speaking to NBC television news, Counselor to the President Karen Hughes said Mr. Bush will tell the nation and a joint session of Congress to be prepared for additional military operations against terrorism.

"He will talk about the fact that we have troops in the Philippines. He will mention Somalia," she said. "He will talk about what is ahead without letting our enemies know exactly what he plans to do."

Public opinion polls indicate seven out of 10 Democrats say they support the president's handling of the war. But they are critical of his ability to deal with an economy in recession.

Meanwhile, many Democrats in Congress blame last year's tax cut for wiping out a projected budget surplus.

But Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle left a breakfast meeting with the President saying Republicans and Democrats can work together on an economic stimulus package that would not add to the budget deficit.

"I think that to whatever extent we can do an economic stimulus bill that acknowledges the need for short term help, without exacerbating the long term...that is what [Federal Reserve] Chairman Greenspan supports, and I think that is what we hope to find as a consensus in Congress," he said

The White House is also feeling pressure from Congressional investigators over what ties, if any, it may have had to top officials of the now collapsed Enron Corporation. The investigators also want to know how the huge energy trader may have helped the administration shape its energy policy.

During the State of the Union address, White House aides say the President will not mention the Enron collapse by name, but will instead condemn corporate irresponsibility.