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Bush Appeals to Minorities, Low Income Voters as Election Approaches - 2002-07-01

President Bush is pushing his domestic agenda this week as he visits three states: Ohio, Wisconsin and West Virginia. Mr. Bush appears to be stepping up his domestic travel as the November congressional elections move closer.

In Cleveland, Ohio, the president reached out to the African-American community. Cleveland was in the news last week when the Supreme Court upheld a local program that provides low-income parents with government help to send their children to private schools. The president applauded the ruling. "The Supreme Court of the United States gave a great victory to parents and students throughout the nation by upholding the decisions made by local folks here in Cleveland, Ohio," Mr. Bush said.

School voucher programs are highly controversial in big cities, like Cleveland, where public schools in many neighborhoods with large minority populations are not performing as well as they should.

Opponents of vouchers say the money should go into improving public schools, and the government has no business providing funds for private education. Supporters, like President Bush, say parents deserve a choice when their children are not learning, noting the mere presence of a voucher system puts pressure on public schools to do better.

"It is a constructive approach to improving public education," Mr. bush added. "We are interested in aiming toward excellence for every child. And the voucher system is a part of the strategy."

The president spoke at an event at a Cleveland auditorium billed as a "rally on inner city compassion." His remarks also included references to boosting minority home ownership, and providing religious institutions with the ability to apply for government funds to run community programs.

Mr. Bush touched as well on an issue that could affect job creation in America - a series of scandals and business failures involving well-known American corporations that threatens confidence in the business sector. "In order to keep the job base increasing in America, there must be trust," Mr. Bush continued. "And some have violated the trust. They have not assumed their responsibility. I expect there to be responsibility at all levels in our society. And I intend to fully enforce the law when people cheat on the balance sheets of corporate America."

President Bush is expected to deliver a major address on corporate responsibility next week in New York City.