President promotes his economic record

Bush campaigns in W. Va. as parties begin final push

The Nation

September 06, 2004|By Maura Reynolds and Matea Gold | Maura Reynolds and Matea Gold,LOS ANGELES TIMES

PARKERSBURG, W. Va. - President Bush promoted his economic successes in this hard-luck coal mining region yesterday, saying his tax cuts had helped create 1.7 million new jobs in the past year and brought West Virginia's unemployment rate below the national average.

Spending his second Sunday in a row in this battleground state, Bush also accused his Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry, of wanting to raise taxes on small businesses, which the president said were a large part of the top income-tax bracket.

"This Labor Day weekend, it's important for America's workers to know that my opponent wants to tax your job," Bush said. "His plan to raise taxes on those at the top end of the income-tax scale will raise taxes for the 900,000 small businesses and entrepreneurs who pay at the individual rate and who are creating most of the new jobs in our changing economy."

Democrats respond

Kerry, who took a break from the campaign trail yesterday to celebrate his daughter Alexandra's 31st birthday in Pittsburgh, did not address Bush's charges.

But his campaign struck back immediately, saying that the president was misrepresenting the data and that most small-business owners didn't fall into the top brackets. They also said Kerry planned new tax breaks for small businesses that created jobs or offered health-care benefits to their employees.

"George Bush's misleading definition of small business includes both himself and Dick Cheney, but they certainly haven't created any new jobs over the last four years," Kerry spokesman Phil Singer said. "If voters think that giving Dick Cheney a tax cut is the best way to create jobs, they should vote for George Bush. But if they want a plan that cuts taxes for small business that create jobs or offer health insurance, they should vote for John Kerry."

Kerry shake-up

As fellow Democrats fretted openly about the state of Kerry's campaign, the Massachusetts senator moved to shake up the internal dynamic of his organization, recruiting longtime friend John Sasso to accompany him on the road as a senior adviser.

Sasso, who ran Michael S. Dukakis' 1988 presidential bid and had been working as the general election manager at the Democratic National Committee, will begin traveling with Kerry today. Field organizer Michael Whouley, who is credited with helping Kerry win the Iowa caucuses this year, will replace Sasso at the DNC.

Joe Lockhart, the former Clinton White House press secretary who recently joined Kerry to help revamp his operation's communications, cast the moves as part of the effort to intensify the campaign for the fall.

"Sasso is a longtime confidant and can provide invaluable strategic advice," he said.

The heated back-and-forth between the campaigns came as new polls show that Bush has gained a sizable lead over his opponent. One conducted by Time magazine showed that 53 percent of likely voters approve of the way Bush is handling the economy - not good news for the Kerry camp, which is planning to make it a key part of the campaign. Kerry advisers sought to play down the president's gains, saying that he received a boost out of the Republican National Convention that will not last.

"The thing about a bounce is, it goes up and then it comes down, and then we'll go back to the essential structure of this race," campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill said on CBS' Face the Nation.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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