Former President Bush said Tuesday that John Kerry's (search) Democratic presidential campaign is using the same rhetoric about the state of the economy against his son that Bill Clinton (search) used against him in 1992.

But the elder Bush said President George W. Bush has a stronger case to take to the voters this time around because the economy has begun to show signs of recovery.

"I was out telling people things were getting better, but the Clinton campaign ... portrayed me as being out of touch," the former president recalled at a business luncheon for 1,500 people.

The elder Bush said he was optimistic about the economy and cited statistics showing growth in job creation and home ownership as examples of the current president's leadership.

But he warned that "in politics, you have to remember it isn't what's actually happening. It's the perception that's out there."

Kerry spokesman Bill Burton said it probably was easy for Bush to talk up the economy at the $100-per-plate luncheon "but if you talk the three million who've lost their jobs since George Bush became president I think they'd probably have a different view. President Bush and his son are both good people who did a bad job with the American economy," he said.

The federal Labor Department recently reported that 308,000 new jobs were created in March, the strongest monthly job growth in four years. Democrats have blamed Bush for the loss of 2.2 million since he took office in January 2001.