This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," October 4, 2004, that was edited for clarity.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: He may have lost the debate, but is he also losing on the economy?
If you believe the polls, President Bush had a clear-cut lead on the economy heading into last week's debate. Now a new poll shows just the opposite, with Senator Kerry in the lead.
Is Bush administration concerned? Let us ask his commerce secretary, Don Evans.
Secretary, good to have you.
DON EVANS, COMMERCE SECRETARY: Thank you, Neil. Good to be with you.
CAVUTO: Now the data seems to be overwhelmingly in favor of your argument: things are picking up steam. But I'm worrying back, secretary, to the president's father running for re-election, when it was deemed too little, too late.
Are you worried this go-around?
EVANS: No. Look, I'm not, Neil. I continue to kind of look at the economic data and see the improvement, unemployment coming down, record homeownership across America, the GDP (search) growth at the highest it's been in almost 20 years. I'm not at all.
I mean, as I travel across America, I hear people telling me that they feel this growing and strengthening economy.
And listen, as you know, any time there's one person out of work that needs a job, we've still got work to do, which is why the president signed again — and this would be a fourth tax relief measure for the American people, continued to improve the economic conditions for more job growth.
CAVUTO: But let's talk about that job growth, Secretary.
CAVUTO: Of course, Friday, we're going to have the September employment data (search). Most are looking at something being weakened by all of these hurricanes, so it could be as weak as 120,000 jobs created.
If it is that or less, would you say the president's going to be in a heap of trouble in his debate that night?
EVANS: Neil, not at all. Listen, one of the things that we need to focus on is there are more Americans going to work today ever in the history of our country; 139,700,000 never before, according to the Household Survey (search), never had this many Americans going to work every day.
CAVUTO: But we also have a lot more Americans, right?
EVANS: Well, yes, but it shows, though, that we've gotten more working today than ever before.
And also, Neil, in the 1970's, unemployment was 6.2 percent. In the 1980's, it averaged 7.3 percent. And through the 1990's, it averaged 5.8 percent. So unemployment is not just below the averages of the past three decades, it's well below the averages of the past three decades.
CAVUTO: Let me ask you, sir, a little bit about the tax cuts and the president's move to make it a fourth one today. There is an argument against the tax cuts, the deficit issue notwithstanding, that they're sort of like a Johnny one-shot note for the economy, that like a nicotine fix, they help you out in the beginning, but after that, they don't.
What do you say?
EVANS: Well, what I say is, Neil, we need to focus on growing this economy at its full potential. I mean, the tax cuts that the president signed into law today were part of the president's budget for the next five years.
The president has said we're going to cut the deficit in half in the next five years. We're well on our way to doing that.
You know, a lot of people get concerned about higher deficits and having an adverse impact on interest rates. We're certainly not seeing that in the futures market.
So Neil, I just say that, look, we need to continue to focus on economic policies, fiscal policies, to allow the economy to grow at its full potential, which means it continues create more jobs, higher paying jobs for the hard working people all across America.
CAVUTO: Secretary, let me ask you this, many of the president's deepest fans and supporters were worried about his performance in the debate last week and have urged him to take the battle to Kerry more directly on the economic issues. Will he?
EVANS: Well, listen, I mean, he's been taking the battle to the Kerry campaign and Senator Kerry on economic issues.
The president has a clear record of results. I mean, as he has said, and it is true, this is a very strong economy. It continues to get strong person can we do more? Of course we can. That's why he signed the tax bill today.
But he'll continue to point out the strong results of this economy, given the fact we were handed a Clinton recession, given the fact that we had 9/11. We dealt with corporate scandals, war in Afghanistan, liberation of Iraq, war against terrorism.
CAVUTO: All right.
EVANS: This is a very strong economy given all of those challenges that this country has faced
CAVUTO: Secretary Evans, thank you, sir. We appreciate it.
EVANS: Sure. Thank you, Neil.
CAVUTO: The commerce secretary of the United States, Don Evans, at the White House.
Now to the other side, Mickey Kantor, he too a commerce secretary under President Bill Clinton and also a trade representative.
MICKEY KANTOR, FORMER COMMERCE SECRETARY: Neil, how are you?
CAVUTO: I don't know what to call you, I guess.
KANTOR: You can tall me anything that you wish. Now that the Dodgers are in the playoffs I don't care.
CAVUTO: You're happy. You're happy. Now, let me ask you this. The economy — you read the same numbers as I do.