NEW YORK -- President Bush drove past thousands of anti-war protesters lining Sixth Avenue last night to tell an enthusiastic audience composed of many of the nation's most powerful financiers that even though the country is in a recession and a war, it is overly pessimistic about the future.
"I can understand why," the president said in response to a question, "and if I were an autoworker laid off, I guess I would have every reason in the world to have doubts. But I think the fundamentals are still there. I do not think this war will add an unacceptable burden."
More than 2,000 people attended the event sponsored by the Economic Club of New York, a loose federation of the city's largest businesses.
Security for event was extraordinary. A number of midtown streets were closed. Uniformed police covered the area, crowding empty doorways. Across the street from the Hilton Hotel, where Mr. Bush spoke, an estimated 3,000 anti-war protesters were packed between police barricades and the CBS Building.