Bush's holiday greetings get wrapped up in politics Campaign themes adorn message

December 24, 1991|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- In a new sign of his concern about his re-election campaign, President Bush yesterday issued a politically redrafted Christmas message that sounded more like a campaign speech than the customary White House holiday greeting.

"Just last week, I signed a transportation bill that will put hundreds of Americans back in good jobs," said Mr. Bush, who has been trying to convince voters that he cares about their problems and is not just interested in foreign affairs.

The message was originally written by speech writer Anthony Snow as an inspirational text based on previous messages.

But late last week, one official said, "word came down" that the message was to be reworked by Samuel K. Skinner, Mr. Bush's new chief of staff, and by Robert M. Teeter, his campaign manager, to give it more political heft.

The message did contain words of inspiration for the holiday season. "Each day we can light the darkness

by helping someone in need, working to see that no elderly person goes to bed hungry, that no homeless person spends another night shivering on the streets, that no child sits alone, unloved, unknown," Mr. Bush said.

He added, "Americans have the talent and power to do anything, and so when history remembers Christmas 1991, let it remember that we promise to bring God's light to our brothers and sisters in need."

But a large portion of the message was devoted to political themes.

"It was about one year ago, in the interest of world peace, that I decided Saddam Hussein's aggression would not stand, even if force had to be used," he said. "We tried diplomacy and economic embargoes, and then we moved against the brutal dictator and liberated Kuwait."

At another point, Mr. Bush said: "This year, we unleashed a revolution in education. And I can tell you, by the end of this decade we will have the world's best schools, and our children will lead the next generation to a better future. And next week, I'll travel to Asia to fight for open markets and more opportunities for American workers. . . . Let there be no mistake. My No. 1 priority is jobs and economic growth, and I'm confident that we will succeed."

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