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Bush Appeals to Conservative Voters with Focus on Tax Cuts, National Security - 2004-05-14

President Bush is reaching out to his political base in this election year, seeking support from groups of conservative voters. He is highlighting issues that top their agenda including tax cuts and national security.

The president says he is the conservative candidate in this election, portraying his likely opponent, Democrat John Kerry, as the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate.

"When the non-partisan National Journal [magazine] did its ratings, they found that my opponent had the most liberal record of all 100 United States Senators. That is one heck of a feat!," he said.

His words brought laughter and cheers of support from members of the American Conservative Union, one of the prominent conservative organizations in the country.

Mr. Bush said on all the fundamental issues facing America in recent years, conservatives have pursued the correct course. He spoke of their support over the years for a tough stand against communism, their belief in the importance of free enterprise, and the priority they place on promoting religious and moral values.

"I'm looking forward to the campaign. I am looking forward to taking our message to the American people," he said.

The president devoted the bulk of his remarks to an issue that has been at the top of the conservative agenda for years: tax cuts. He said Senator Kerry only wants to add to America's tax burden.

"America's economy is the fastest growing of any industrialized nation. The tax relief we passed is working!," he said.

As is the case with many of his campaign speeches, Mr. Bush intertwined the issues of economic and national security. He said the United States must meet the security challenges of the new century.

"Al-Qaida is wounded but not broken. Terrorists are testing our will in Afghanistan and Iraq. Regimes in North Korea and Iran are challenging the peace. If America shows weakness and uncertainty in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This will not happen on my watch," he said.

The president questioned John Kerry's support for the military, saying the senator voted against more money for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Bush stressed the military is taking risks overseas, and said U.S. soldiers are doing "a fantastic job."

He did take note, however, of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners and condemned "the conduct of a few." He said those responsible do not represent the American military or the people of the United States.