President Bush is reaching out to members of American labor unions, telling them that he is optimistic about the economy and the nation's future. He celebrated the Labor Day holiday Monday in southwestern Pennsylvania, a part of the country where union membership is strong.
Doug McCarron, the national president of the carpenter's union, motioned him to the microphone before a large crowd at a labor day picnic, a tradition in this town with a long history of union activism.
For years, American labor unions have allied themselves with the Democratic Party and the largest labor federation in the country, the AFL/CIO, remains a strong supporter of Democratic candidates. But the president is trying to chip away at this support, courting both the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the carpenters union, which broke away from the AFL/CIO a few years ago.
"I appreciate you all coming," he said. "I love to see your families. I am here to talk about the greatness of this country and it starts with the fact we have got great Americans who work hard to make a living and put food on the table. Our workers are the most productive, hardest working, best craftsmen in the world," he said.
President Bush spoke to some of the biggest concerns of the labor movement. He promised to do all he can to boost the economy and create new jobs.
"A strong America is one where there is economic security. We want people working," he said.
In his remarks, the president shied away from divisive issues and focused on matters of national unity. He noted that one year ago he spoke at a labor day picnic in the Midwest. About a week later, terrorists struck the United States.
"They hit us and we united," he said. "They hit us and we are now working together as a nation to make the nation a safer place, a stronger place and a better place."
President Bush will return to southwestern Pennsylvania next Wednesday to mark the passing of one year since two planes slammed into the World Trade Center and a third hit the Pentagon. He will spend part of September 11 in the town of Shanksville, where the fourth hijacked plane crash landed after the passengers took on the terrorists.