JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In his brother Jeb's state on a dual-purpose trip, President Bush pressed Thursday for what his aides themed "diplomacy abroad and jobs at home."
Rallying troops at Mayport Naval Air Station in Florida, Bush promised the United States would "use every ounce of our power to defeat" Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein if force is necessary to rid his country of weapons of mass destruction.
"We'll protect America and our friends and allies from these thugs," Bush said after being introduced to a raucous crowd of 5,000 sailors by his governor-brother.
Bush said many nations have offered to support a military campaign to disarm the Iraqi regime, but he urged the United Nations to sanction such a battle, posing that to do otherwise would diminish the role of the international body.
"The decision is this for the United Nations: When you say something, does it mean anything? You've got to decide, if you lay down the resolutions, does it mean anything? The United Nations Security Council can now decide whether or not it has the resolve to enforce its resolutions," Bush said.
The president repeated his usual litany of charges against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, namely that he harbors hatred for the United States, chemical and biological weapons to use in service of that hatred, and that Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda, all charges denied by Iraq.
Following the speech, Bush was headed to lunch aboard the Aegis cruiser USS Philippine Sea with the sailors — many of whom participated in the Afghan campaign —and their families.
Earlier on the president's 13th trip to Florida since taking office, Bush met with small business owners in Jacksonville, Fla., to push his $695 billion package of tax cuts and to push for making the 2001 tax cut changes permanent.
At Dagher Printing, a family-operated commercial printing shop, the president, who wished his brother Jeb a happy 50th birthday two days late, emphasized a portion of the package that would allow small businesses to write off three times as much new technology, machinery or other equipment.
"We need a little further wind at the back of this economy," Bush said. "This is a realistic plan. It is a hopeful plan. It is a plan based upon sound principle. It is a plan which will work."
Bush also wants to accelerate to this year all the individual income tax rate cuts enacted in 2001's tax package and scheduled for 2004 and 2006 — a move the White House has touted as a boon to small business owners who make up two-thirds of the individual income tax returns in the top brackets.
"Twenty-three million businesses will receive over $2,000 in income tax relief. Now, that means a lot when you start thinking about the implications. I mean, you got a one-man shop, $2,000 may mean the capacity to buy a machine, leverage the money to buy a machine, which means another job," Bush said.
Bush added that tax reforms would not only provide stimulus, but would even out the tax code.
His comments came a day after Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told lawmakers he's unsure the economy needs stimulus right now. Greenspan said the main drag on the economy is uncertainty over war with Iraq.
Asked whether the president thinks it's time for Greenspan to step down, after four terms as the Fed chairman, White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said, "The president has a great deal of confidence in Chairman Greenspan. He believes he's doing an outstanding job."
The White House is filling Bush's schedule with economic events to show the country that he isn't ignoring the economy as he moves toward war with Iraq.
The emphasis comes as the Labor and Commerce Departments revealed more mixed reviews for the economy, with jobless claims falling slightly along with retail sales.
On Wednesday, the president delivered a speech on the economy in Alexandria, Va., at the Charles Schwab building. There, Bush called his economic plan a job-creating windfall for entrepreneurs that is "like a huge capital infusion into the small-business sector of America."
Fox News' James Rosen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.