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Bush Pushes for Greater Trade Authority

President Bush wants Congress to give him more authority to negotiate overseas trade deals. Mr. Bush says the move will help American farmers.

It was a day of campaigning for President Bush - pushing for Congress to give him greater trade authority, while rallying support for a Republican Senate candidate.

Mr. Bush came to the state of South Dakota to visit an ethanol plant, where corn is distilled as an additive to gasoline. In a speech to farmers at the plant, the president urged Senate Democrats to pass his energy plan, which includes support for "renewable" energy from agricultural products, including ethanol. "On the one hand, it is going to encourage more conservation. On the other hand, hopefully it will spur, not only the development of renewables, but more oil and gas at home, and the two are not mutually exclusive," he says. "The less reliant we are on foreign sources of crude oil, the better off we are in America."

The president says greater energy independence is a matter of national security, as is free and fair trade. That is why he asking for Trade Promotion Authority, which would allow him to negotiate overseas trade deals that would then be put to Congress for a simple yes-or-no vote.

In a state largely dependent on farming and ranching, Mr. Bush told South Dakotans that he wants to sell more American agricultural products abroad. "We need to keep American ag [agriculture] in the forefront of trade agreement. It ought to be the cornerstone of international trade policy," he says. "That has been my record, thus far, as the president and it will be my record so long as I am the president."

South Dakota is the home of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. The Democrat attended the president's speech but was not invited to fly out on Air Force One, as is usually the case with local legislators.

That is because Mr. Bush also used the trip to campaign for a Republican Congressman who is challenging the state's other Democratic Senator, Tim Johnson.

Polls show Republican Congressman John Thune running even with Senator Johnson, ahead of the November election. The president has made it a priority to try and regain a Republican majority in the Senate where Democrats currently hold a one-seat advantage.