Cheney Touts Economic Numbers

Vice President Dick Cheney (search) touted the Bush administration's record on the economy during a brief campaign stop in Henderson on Monday.

"America is moving in the right direction, and President Bush's policies are making us stronger every day," Cheney said.

Cheney spoke to about 450 invited supporters at a convention center in Nevada's second-largest and fastest-growing city before departing from nearby Las Vegas for another campaign rally in Springfield, Mo.

The Republican vice president arrived in Las Vegas on Sunday, two days after President Bush made a campaign stop in Reno. Bush focused on the Iraq war and the economy while avoiding any comment on his support for a nuclear waste dump in Nevada, which is unpopular among some groups here.

Cheney made no public appearances here Sunday.

On Monday, Cheney's 20-minute speech touched on highlights of the Bush campaign and criticized likely Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, likening him to former President Jimmy Carter.

"Every day John Kerry does his best to talk down the economy," Cheney said.

Cheney declared Bush's policies were responsible for economic growth over the past two years.

"The results are coming in, Bush tax relief is working," he said.

It was the vice president's third trip to southern Nevada in the past year. He helped raise about $100,000 for Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., at a campaign fund-raiser in January, and he reaped $300,000 for the Bush-Cheney campaign during a fund-raiser at the Las Vegas home of a supporter in July 2003.

Both parties have targeted Nevada as a battleground state this campaign.

Nevada voter registration is almost evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, and Bush won the state's four electoral votes by just 4 percentage points in 2000. Nevada has five electoral votes this year.

On Friday, Bush attended a rally for about 9,700 supporters at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center (search) in northern Nevada — his second visit to the state as president.

Bush and Cheney have avoided addressing Democratic contentions that Bush's backing of plans for a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain (search) broke a promise he made as a candidate in 2000 to ensure science and not politics determined the dump's future. Bush approved Yucca Mountain after winning the presidency, even though many scientific studies remained unfinished.

The economy was safer territory — for Bush in Reno and Cheney in Henderson.

Nevada has posted strong economic figures in recent months, including a 4.1 percent unemployment rate in May — the lowest in nearly four years and lower than the seasonally adjusted national jobless rate of 5.6 percent.

Jobs have grown in the leisure and hospitality industry, professional and business services, and construction while the population around Las Vegas has more than tripled since 1986, to about 1.6 million today.

Henderson, near Las Vegas, has swelled from fewer than 39,000 residents in 1986 to 217,000 in 2003, according to state figures.