On the Road Again
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GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Nice to see you. Thanks for coming.
KWAME HOLMAN: Texas Governor George W. Bush began a full day of rallying and recruiting in Michigan at a Detroit axle factory this morning.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Good too meet you, buddy. Thank you, sir.
KWAME HOLMAN: Bush says he’s shaming to build on his 11 percentage point victory over Maine rival John McCain in South Carolina when Michigan Republicans go to the polls tomorrow.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: I think if you look at what happened in South Carolina, there was a huge turnout. A significant number of people were energized by my message, that is conservative and compassionate. A huge turnout, especially among young people who are trying to follow somebody who is optimistic and hopeful — I did a fantastic job of igniting our base and expanding our horizons. That’s what I’m going to do here in Michigan. I take nothing for granted. I’m thrilled with the turnout that happened in South Carolina. But you’re going to see me working hard in Michigan. To continue reaching out.
SPOKESMAN: The great governor of the great state of Texas, the Honorable George W. Bush.
KWAME HOLMAN: Bush’s second Michigan stop was a traditional one for presidential candidates. At the Detroit Economic Club, Bush outlined his view of the role of government to a large crowd of business leaders.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: The role of government is not to create wealth, but to create an environment in which entrepreneurship can flourish, in which small businesses can become large businesses, in which people who dream about owning something in America can realize that dream if they’re willing to work hard and take risks. No, the role of government is not to guarantee anything except equal access to the great American dream. I’m concerned about the tax burden. Now I know the rhetoric in Washington is it’s risky to give people their own money back. But let me make it plain to you, I understand the government surplus. It’s not the government’s money. It is the people’s money. And when I become your President, I intend to give enough of it back so the people of this good state can have more money in their pocket.
KWAME HOLMAN: When Bush took questions from reporters, he was flanked by an important figure in his effort to win the Michigan primary tomorrow– popular three-term Republican Governor John Engler. Bush was asked about a statewide poll showing Arizona Senator John McCain slightly ahead, though others show a statistical dead heat.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Polls can be wrong. There is a level of intensity amongst our voters that is palpable. I can see it, can hear it. People come up to me and say, “I cannot wait to vote for you and work hard for you, and I can’t wait to take my friends to the polls.” We have a volunteer army on the ground.
KWAME HOLMAN: From downtown Detroit, the Texas Governor traveled 90 minutes to a rally at Michigan State University in East Lansing.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: I feel victory here in Michigan. I want to thank you all for coming. It’s voting time in Michigan. It’s time for people of this state to say that tomorrow is the beginning of the end of the Clinton/Gore era in Washington, DC. (Applause) I want to talk about one other issue right quick, now that I have got your attention. It is incredibly important in order to make sure the American dream touches every heart. It is incredibly important that every child in America be educated, and no child be left behind. It is incredibly important. (Cheers and applause) Perhaps my most proud accomplishment is to be able to stand in this great state of Michigan and say our test scores are up, particularly amongst our African American students and our Hispanic students — because you see, we have begun to abandon the practice of saying, “how old are you?” You see, a system that says, “how old are you?” It’s a system that says, if you’re 12 you’re supposed to be here and 14 here. Instead, we’re starting to ask what do you know? And if you don’t know what you’re supposed to know, we will make sure you do early before it’s too late. And our state is better off. I want to take that reforming agenda to Washington, D.C.. And you all need to be asking the question, who has the vision for economic growth? Whose vision is the most optimistic for me who’s been looking for work? The current tax code is unfair, the death tax is unfair, and I intend to get rid of it; the marriage tax is unfair, the Social Security earnings tax is unfair, and I am going to get rid of it. (Cheers)
KWAME HOLMAN: The candidate’s enthusiasm in Michigan today was bolstered by Saturday’s victory in South Carolina.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Frankly I want to say thanks to my friends all across America, all across America, who stayed steady with this campaign when times were tough. And so tonight we come roaring out of South Carolina with a new energy in this campaign.
KWAME HOLMAN: In talk show appearances yesterday, Bush said he was a better candidate than the one who lost badly to John McCain in New Hampshire three weeks ago.
HOST: You’ve said in other interviews that you were sort of smiling through the early primaries. Did you go home to Austin in between and decide to do something different, decide to be more aggressive or not smile so much — do something to be a different George Bush?
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Not a different person. You can’t change my heart, and you can’t change your vision. But I could change my way to communicate with people. You’re right. I learned, and that’s something this process is. It’s a learning process. After all, I’m learning as I head to become your President. I think that’s what you want for every candidate, somebody who has had… You know, took a blow and able to recover and learn from it. And I did. And this is a good, strong campaign here in South Carolina, and I’m most grateful.
KWAME HOLMAN: Arriving in Michigan Saturday night, Bush began a two-day political sprint through the state.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, thank you very much for this warm Michigan greeting on a kind of a cold night. But my night was kind of hot a little earlier. I want to thank you all for coming. I’m ready for this contest, and I hope you are as well. (Applause)
KWAME HOLMAN: Casting himself as what he calls the real reformer in the presidential race, Bush now rarely mentions McCain, aiming instead at the Democrats. Once Michigan voters head to the polls tomorrow, Governor Bush plans to push on to two of next month’s so-called Super Tuesday states, Missouri and California.