WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va – President Bush urged Republican lawmakers Sunday to work with him on an agenda that empowers religious groups to provide social services and offers mentoring programs and more help for those addicted to drugs.
"There are people who need love and compassion," Bush said at a congressional retreat at the Greenbrier resort. "There are people who wonder whether or not the American experience is meant for them."
The president also made another pitch for passage of proposed tax cuts that he says would create jobs, for changes in Medicare to provide more choice and prescription drug coverage for seniors, and more rapid confirmation of nominees for federal judgeships.
He also talked up some programs that are not part of the traditional GOP agenda.
On Monday, Bush is traveling to Nashville, Tenn., to renew his push for programs that are part of his effort to be a "compassionate conservative."
"I'm going to call for focus on those who are addicted to drugs," Bush said. "We'll work hard to continue to drive the demand for drugs down and interdict supply, but there are sad souls in our society who are hooked on drugs."
And he said he looked forward "to working with the Congress to empower programs which work, particularly faith-based programs which work, to help save Americans one heart, one soul, one conscience at a time."
He said it was important to pursue such programs domestically, but also "to show our compassion abroad as well."
The president also talked about the thousands of children living in orphanages in Africa because their parents died of AIDS, and he asked lawmakers to approve quickly his proposal to sharply increase U.S. funds dedicated to the global battle against the disease -- to $15 billion over the next five years.
"It's a vital initiative, because we're talking about saving human life," Bush said. "We're talking about showing the world the great strength and compassion of the United States of America."
Democrats have questioned Bush's call for new tax cuts while pushing for programs to help the needy, improve education and provide prescription drugs -- all while planning a war with Iraq.