CRAWFORD, Texas – President Bush is resuming his August vacation at his Texas ranch after a two-day swing through Colorado and New Mexico to promote many of the issues on his policy agenda.
He also raised cash for Republican candidates, reaching for a solid base on which to recapture the Senate from Democratic control.
To crowds in both states, Bush stressed character training for children; boosted his literacy and other education plans; sought support for his version of a patients' bill of rights; deplored continuing violence in the Middle East; and defended his plans to increase oil and gas production and to ignore the restraints of Cold War agreements and build a missile defense system.
He took advantage of any venue to make his points.
In Albuquerque, N.M., on Wednesday, Bush had just finished reading a book to second-graders at the Griegos Elementary School when reporters asked about the latest run of suicide bombings inside Israel.
"There's too much violence in the Middle East, but I'm confident that we can avoid war, so long as the leadership makes (a) concerted effort to do so," the president said. He demanded that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat give a 100 percent effort to curb violent acts and urged restraint on Israel in responding to violence.
Speaking later to members of a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on a sun-baked city street, the president made a strong pitch for allowing Mexican trucks access to U.S. roads if they meet normal safety standards.
"Oh, I know there are some voices that want to wall us off from Mexico," Bush said. "I say to them they want to condemn our neighbors to the south to poverty, and I refuse to accept that type of isolationist and protectionist attitude."
He called proposed tougher standards for Mexican trucks that cross the border "discrimination against Mexico." Allowing Mexican trucks into the United States under rules set by the North American Free Trade Agreement, rather than tougher ones, would "help prosperity spread its roots throughout our neighborhood," Bush said. That, he said, would be a good thing for the United States.
At the day's final event Bush raised $450,000 to help elect Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., to a sixth Senate term.
He also renewed an attack begun in Denver on those who say his $1.35 trillion, 10-year tax cut will bring back high budget deficits.
Excessive spending and not tax cuts are the culprits, Bush said, and he pledged to fight to keep spending within limits of the budget he submitted to Congress.
"If not, I'm going to use the veto pen of the president of the United States to keep fiscal sanity in Washington, D.C.," he said.
Bush has nothing on his public schedule until he flies to Milwaukee next Monday to address the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.