Publisher, Sussex County Online
Photos: Republican Presidential candidate George W. Bush at the Baycenter podium (top), signing autographs (middle), and speaking to Sussex County businessmen Bruce Mears (left) and David Wilgus (right).
DEWEY BEACH -- Presidential hopeful George W. Bush rode into Sussex County Thursday evening to define his vision of a "compassionate, conservative" America.
Speaking to an appreciative audience of about 500 Sussex County Republicans at the Baycenter at Ruddertowne on Feb. 3, 2000, the Texas governor laid out what he repeatedly called compassionate, conservative measures and policies he would attempt to enact if he wins the Republican nomination and then the general election in November.
Known as the Compassionate Conservative among his supporters, Bush, seeking to regain momentum lost to rival John McCain in the New Hampshire Republican primary on Tuesday, Feb. 1, spoke at a rally and dinner hosted by the Sussex County Republican Committee in preparation for the Tuesday, Feb. 8, Republican primary in Delaware.
During his 25-minute speech, Bush, the son of former President George Bush, outlined his compassionate conservative agenda with the following specific steps he would take if elected President:
Following are some highlights of Gov. Bush's speech:Taxes
Gov. Bush said the government should never take more than one-third of a citizens' paycheck and promised to cut taxes across all brackets, mentioning specifically the upper and lower brackets.
He said the current tax burden, the highest since World War II, would eventually damage the economy if not corrected.
"It is conservative to cut taxes," said Bush, "and compassionate to give people their money back ... If we're interested in budgetary reform, the best budget reform is to give people their money back."
Bush said tax cuts would be "an insurance policy" against future economic downturns.
He said in addition to the reduction from 15% to 10% for the lower income bracket, he would also raise the Earned Income Child Credit from $500 to $1,000.
He also attacked the "Death Tax" as unfair to farmers and small businesspeople.The Military
Gov. Bush said the U.S. Military's morale is at an all-time low due to low pay, inadequate housing, over-deployment, and under-training. Specifically, he said pay is so low now that some military personnel have to use food stamps.
Citing numerous U.S. troop deployments around the world, Bush said he would tell U.S. allies that they "get to be the peace keepers now. The great land called America will now be the 'peace makers' ".
Bush said the military must be rebuilt because even though the "Evil Empire" no longer exists, "evil remains," especially in the form of terrorism.
"A dangerous world requires a sharpened sword," said Bush. "I will make sure our troops are well-paid and well-trained."
Bush also criticized President Clinton for allowing the military's morale to drop so low.
"It's important for the Commander in Chief to respect our men and women in uniform," said Bush, "and in turn, to earn the respect of those men and women in uniform."Public Education
Gov. Bush cited his record in helping to improve public education in Texas by re-introducing Phonics into the curriculum, turning control of public schools back to the local level, and creating higher standards and tougher accountability measures.
He said those measures were responsible for drastically improved test scores, particularly among African-American and Hispanic students.
"It's important to ask if our children are learning and if they are, it's incredibly important to thank our teachers," said Bush. "If our children aren't learning, however, we need to blow the whistle on failing schools."
Bush also said he would change Head Start from a "health and human services program to a reading program" and introduce "character education" into public schools.Free Trade
Gov. Bush said Americans should embrace free trade and that he would "work endlessly" to tear down barriers and tariffs around the world.
"I believe a level playing field will benefit Delaware farmers," he said. "I want to remind the people of this country that fearful people build walls. That's what fearful people do. Confident people tear them down. And I'm confident in the ingenuity of the American entrepreneur and confident that American farmers can compete with anyone, any time, anywhere."Character, Morals
Gov. Bush spoke at length about morals in America. He said he would usher in a new "Responsibility Era" to counter the last couple of decades in which he said Americans have chosen to blame others for their own problems.
"To usher that era in, it's incredibly important to elect a man who behaves responsibly," said Bush.
Bush said it's "conservative" to recognize that there are right choices and wrong choices in life and that he would encourage programs such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts that clarify right from wrong.
"I'm on a mission to lift the spirts of America," said Bush, "but we need someone who can unite us, rather than divide us.
"If Americans decide that I'm the one (to be President) ... I swear on the Bible not only to uphold the laws of the land, but to uphold the dignity and honor of the office."
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