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Bush stumps at Ohio factory

Champions surge in US economy

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In a key reelection state where 337,000 people are out of work, President Bush raised more than $1 million in campaign cash yesterday and told factory workers his tax cuts were behind brisk new economic growth.

Bush spoke at the Central Aluminum Co. a few hours after the Commerce Department reported that the gross domestic product had risen at a robust 7.2 percent annual rate in the third quarter.

During the speech inside the noisy plant, White House aides handed out a memo asserting that Bush's tax cuts "helped fuel the surge in the economy in the third quarter." It acknowledged, however, that job creation has "yet to take hold," and the president himself cautioned: "We cannot expect economic growth numbers like this every quarter. Yet by continuing a pro-growth agenda, we will sustain growth and job creation in this country. We're on the right track, but we've got work to do."

Bush went on to tell workers at Central Aluminum, a company hurt by high natural gas prices, that he is pushing lawmakers to pass stalled energy legislation, one of the GOP's top legislative priorities. House and Senate conferees are trying to reconcile their differences on the legislation, a task they started on Sept. 5.

"We've got to get after it," Bush said. "And that's my message to the United States Congress: Resolve your differences. Understand that if you're interested in people finding a job, we need an energy policy. That's why I'm here. I want these people working."

This was Bush's 13th presidential visit to Ohio, where the unemployment rate has jumped from 3.9 percent to 5.8 percent since he took office.

"Once again, the president will visit Ohio to fill his campaign coffers and promote his failed economic policies," said Representative Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. "Unfortunately, the president's political stump speech and fund-raising will do nothing to help the . . . Ohioans currently out of work."

The stop at Central Aluminum, where Bush donned safety glasses to watch aluminum extruded like toothpaste into the shape of a tube, was not originally scheduled.

By adding the event, the reelection campaign was able to bill taxpayers for part of Bush's political travel to Ohio -- a state he won with 49.9 percent of the vote in 2000 to Al Gore's 46.5 percent.

The event at the plant was sandwiched between a $2,000-a-person fund-raiser in Columbus that raised $1.4 million and an evening moneymaker expected to raise $1.2 million in San Antonio, his last stop of the day before returning to his Texas ranch. First lady Laura Bush was collecting $275,000 in campaign cash at an evening event in Tyler, Texas.

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