MILWAUKEE, Wis. – The strength of the economy outweighs the challenges it faces, but the progress of recovery from last year's recession isn't going as fast as it should, President Bush said Wednesday.
"I came away from our meeting convinced about our economic future, but not content with the progress we're making," Bush said in reference to Tuesday's economic forum hosted by the president at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
Speaking to an audience packed into a gymnasium at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, the president sought to follow up the optimistic messages that came out of the forum.
He said his administration "will do whatever it takes to make sure our economy remains strong and vibrant throughout the United States."
Wednesday's speech included the president's now-standard pitches for favored economic measures like a terrorism insurance bill, permanent repeal of the estate tax and expanded oil and gas drilling along U.S. shores.
He also called on lawmakers to restrain their spending, one day after he refused to spend $5 billion in alleged emergency spending items passed by Congress last month.
"There are some things we can do in Washington to make the economy grow," the president said. "We can have our budgets back in balance if we restrain spending."
The president said that as long as people are looking for work, "we need to do something about it."
Bush heard little or no criticism of his policies from the gathering of about 240 handpicked participants. The assembly included some major Republican campaign contributors, as well as some Democratic donors.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., called Bush's economic policies misguided and said that "a made-for-TV economic forum isn't going to solve our problems or ease families' concerns."
From the university, the president headed to a fund-raiser for Wisconsin Gov. Scott McCallum, successor to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, before attending the Iowa State Fair and a $1.3 million fund-raiser for Doug Gross, the Republican candidate for governor in Iowa.
Both Gross and his Democratic opponent, Gov. Tom Vilsack, are trial lawyers, perhaps the president's least favorite profession on the planet and one he bashed extensively at Tuesday's forum.
In Iowa, Bush was set to celebrate his recently expanded authority to negotiate international trade agreements and point out the difference trade can make to farm states with bountiful harvests ready for world markets.
Fox News' James Rosen and the Associated Press contributed to this report.