President Bush says he will not let corporate fraud undermine the U.S. economy. He spoke in the southern state of Mississippi, not far from the headquarters of the scandal-ridden WorldCom Corporation, to an audience hard-hit by the fall of the global telecommunications firm.
He said he understands their anger. "Here in Mississippi, you know what I am talking about," he said. "You know what it means to be let down by shady corporate practices."
He noted that there were many people in Mississippi who invested in WorldCom stock as a matter of state pride. Their investments dwindled, and some local employees of the firm lost their jobs and pensions.
President Bush talked to two of the laid-off workers during a private meeting. Later, in public, he renewed his vow to fight corporate corruption following the signing of a new anti-fraud law last week.
He said when he took office, the U.S. economy was in recession. He said months later the economy was affected first by the September 11 terrorist attacks, and then by corporate scandals.
"But I'm certain of this. We won't let fear undermine our economy and we're not going to let fraud undermine it either," he said.
Meanwhile in California, Vice President Dick Cheney predicted a period of extended economic growth. During an appearance before the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Mr. Cheney said the economy will continue to grow if the Bush administration pursues the right policies.
Club members were able to ask questions after the speech, and queried the vice president about his business dealings while in the private sector. He was the head of the Halliburton Company for several years in the 1990s. The energy firm's accounting practices are now under investigation.
Mr. Cheney said he could not talk about his role at Halliburton during the period under review. But he said he was glad he had the chance to be associated with the company.
White House officials have said they do not expect the investigation to turn up any evidence of wrongdoing.