The White House and the Bush re-election campaign got some good news Thursday, as the U.S. government reported a surge in economic growth. The economy grew at its fastest rate in nearly two decades during the third quarter of 2003.
President Bush appeared in extremely good spirits as he launched a campaign swing through the states of Ohio and Texas.
Just a few hours earlier, the Commerce Department reported the economy grew at a rate of 7.2 percent between July and September. That is more than double the rate earlier this year.
Mr. Bush, who has been saying for some time that the economy would rebound, was obviously pleased. "Investment is rising, housing construction is growing. The tax relief we passed is working!" he said.
During a stop at an aluminum company near Columbus, Ohio, the president took credit for the good figures. He said the tax cuts he championed to boost the economy are having an effect.
"We left more money in the hands of the American people, and the American people are moving this economy forward," he said.
But Mr. Bush also sounded a note of caution. He said while the economy will continue to grow, it would be unrealistic to expect such a rapid growth rate to continue.
"We cannot expect economic growth numbers like this every quarter. Yet, by continuing a pro-growth agenda, we will sustain growth and job creation in this country," he said.
The economy is sure to be an issue in the 2004 presidential election and the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign had been hoping for a rebound in the growth rate. But new public opinion surveys show another concern is now moving to the fore among American voters. These polls indicate that as the economy shows signs of improvement, the situation in Iraq could become the lead issue in the campaign.