Bush addresses Lake Michigan College
By KATE NAGENGAST
Assistant News Editor
Standing before an enthusiastic crowd of supporters and a banner with the word "Responsibility" printed boldly across it, Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush spoke about his plans for spending the surplus and his desire to restore integrity to the White House at Lake Michigan College Friday.
"We believe that in order to make sure America is hopeful we must demonstrate a responsibility era," said Bush. "That means responsible leadership in Washington, D.C. That's what this nation needs, a responsible leader who sets clear goals and works with people to achieve those goals … someone to go to Washington and end partisan division, the name calling, the ugliness.
"A leader is somebody who sets their priorities and doesn't try to be all things to all people," he said. "Our priorities are best described by what we want to do with the surplus."
Bush cited Social Security and Medicare reform, military spending, education and tax relief as his priorities for spending the surplus.
"One of the differences between me and my opponent is this," Bush said. "[Al Gore] thinks the surplus exists because of the ingenuity and hard work of the federal government. But the surplus exists because of the hard work and ingenuity of the American people."
He spoke about his plans to return the surplus to American citizens by allowing younger workers to manage their own money through Social Security reform.
As the crowd erupted into a "No more Gore!" chant, Bush criticized the Democratic presidential candidate, Vice President Al Gore.
"As Vice President Gore himself said, `You ain't seen nothing yet!' [They've] had their chance to reform Medicare, but [they] haven't led. We will," Bush said.
Although Bush declared the United States' military strong and capable, he also expressed his desire to continue a "legacy of peace" without excessive military presence.
"The role of the a leader is to anticipate problems … Ours is a nation of peace makers, but not peace keepers around the world, " he said. "You can't be too many things to too many people."
The Texas governor also opposed Gore's plans for "big government" through a discussion of education reform and tax relief.
Bush focused on more personal plans for education to end the "achievement gap" and shift schools from process oriented evaluations (placing students in classes by age) to skills oriented testing (placing students in classes by abilities).
"We believe all school systems should be locally controlled," said Bush. "I don't want to be the federal superintendent of schools, but students shouldn't be asked, `How old are you?' … rather than, `What do you know?'"
Bush also cited Reagan's tax cuts of the 1980s as a possible source for the strength of today's economy, and said that the government should not take any more than 1/3 of anyone's income.
"We believe government ought to be limited," said Bush. "We don't believe in the heavy hand of government; we believe in the helping hand of government. We trust people to make the best decisions for their lives."
Since the rally's audience — packed tightly into the Mendel Center on Lake Michigan College's campus in Benton Harbor, Mich. while hundreds more waited outside — contained mostly Bush supporters, he discussed not only the election issues, but also the nature of the campaign itself.
"This campaign is more than just a person, it's a philosophy, it's an effort to change America," Bush said. "It's a close race and the team that's got the best grassroots organization is the team that's going to win."
Recent Associated Press polls have been especially close in Michigan, one of four key states for which the candidates are currently vying.
"We here in Michigan are the epicenter, we are ground-zero and we are going to elect the next President of the United States," said Candice Miller, Michigan's Secretary of State, in her opening comments at the rally.
Michigan Governor John Engler, a Republican, also commented on the candidates' campaign strategies in his introductory remarks.
"I think [the increase in Bush's poll approval in Michigan] is a rejection of some of the scummiest calls that are happening today in politics … coming into the homes of Michigan," said Engler. "I reject that kind of approach to campaigning … we're not going to let our citizens be scared.
Bush also said, "We believe in responsible leadership, leadership that stands on principle not on polls or focus groups."
All News Stories for Monday, October 30, 2000