WARWICK, R.I. (AP) -- Presidential hopeful George W. Bush, who
has made education his top campaign issue, canceled a scheduled
visit to a new elementary school in a heavily Democratic community
today in order to accommodate a $1,000-a-plate fund-raiser.
"I'm sorry," Bush said at a brief news conference held at T.F.
Green Airport. "Had the fund-raiser been first and the school
second, I would have been at the school."
Bush told reporters he wouldn't be able to visit the Ella Risk
School in Central Falls as planned because bad weather delayed the
arrival of his chartered jet.
"The weather prevented me from going and people shouldn't read
any message into the fact that I wasn't able to make it to the
school because education has been my top priority as governor of
Texas," he said.
Bush was to visit the school in the morning, and then go to the
fund-raiser in Providence.
Instead, he went just to the fund-raiser.
The decision disappointed fourth and fifth graders at the
school, who had been eagerly anticipating their promised "kiddie
press conference" with prepared questions in hand.
"I'm sorry, I really am. I love to go to schools," he said.
At the press conference, Bush also detailed some of his
education proposals, including a goal to set high standards for
schools and "blow the whistle on failure."
He scorned the federal government's involvement in education,
asserting that the states should be able to make their own
decisions about schools. "As the governor of Texas, I didn't
particularly care for ... people coming into our state and telling
us what to do," he said, with Republican Gov. Lincoln Almond at
If federal investments don't show results, he said, parents
should be able to choose how to educate their children.
"If the Title I schools don't meet standards -- in other words,
if the children remain locked in failed schools, we ought to give
the parents options," he said.
After the conference, Bush, left the airport to attend his
private fund-raiser at the Rhode Island Convention Center. He was
scheduled to make another campaign stop in Kansas City, Mo. later
in the day.