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Bush Campaigning Non-Stop for Congressional Elections - 2002-10-31


President Bush is campaigning virtually non-stop in the days leading up to the November 5 elections for congress, state and local offices in the United States. He is focusing on close races for seats in the House and Senate.

George W. Bush is the Republican's biggest weapon in this election campaign. "I am traveling our country to remind people that the American spirit is alive and well today," he said.

After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, his popularity ratings soared and they remain at high levels. With close races around the country, his political party is hoping this strong support will translate into votes for Republican candidates.

And so the president is spending almost all his time on the road in the days before the election appearing at three or four party rallies daily.

On Thursday, he crammed in events in West Virginia, Indiana and Aberdeen, South Dakota, where he campaigned for Senate candidate John Thune. The Republican congressman is in a tight race with the incumbent senator, Democrat Tim Johnson. The president urged a flag-waving cheering crowd to vote Republican.

"For the sake of South Dakota, for the sake of our country, John Thune should be the next United States Senator," he said.

Aberdeen was just the first stop on a five-day, fifteen state last minute campaign tour by the president. It is also the hometown of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

The Republicans hope to push Senator Daschle and the Democrats back into the minority on Election Day. Control of both houses of Congress will be determined on November 5. And while the president's name is not on the ballot, the stakes are high for his legislative agenda and his presidential prestige.

"I urge all the citizens of this state and around the country, Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike, to go to the polls. But I believe when those discerning Democrats and those wise Independents take a look at the candidates that I am here to support, they are going to vote for them!" he said.

At all stops his message is the same: vote Republican and give me the ability to get my proposals through congress. The focus in his speeches is always on the domestic issues that matter most to voters casting ballots for local, state and congressional candidates. They are the kind of issues that hit closest to home: education, health care and taxes.

"When the economy is bumping along we don't need to be raising taxes. We need to be reducing taxes. And we need to also remember you have got to have somebody in Washington that understands whose money we are talking about," he said. "That money is not the government's money. We are talking about your money!"

The president's standard campaign speech has evolved in the weeks leading up to election day. He still talks about fighting terrorism and Iraq. But those remarks usually come in the final moments of his campaign appearances.

"There is a threat in Iraq. And the threat exists because the leader there not only has denied and deceived the world about whether or not he has used weapons of mass destruction," he said. "But this is a guy who used weapons of mass destruction."

Mr. Bush will end his 2002 campaign swing in Texas, the state he calls home. He will vote next Tuesday at a polling place near his ranch in the tiny town of Crawford before returning to Washington to wait for the election results.

He hopes to defy history, which holds that the party in power at the White House traditionally loses seats in congress in elections held mid-way through the president's term in office. With his help, Republicans hope they can defy the odds, increase their slim majority in the House of Representatives and reclaim the Senate.