Bush takes to airwaves to woo voters

Saturday, November 4th 2006, 5:48 am
By: News On 6

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) _ On the last weekend before Election Day, President Bush is campaigning on the airwaves, hoping his conservative base will go to the polls and stave off Democrats' bid to gain control of Congress.

Bush usually tapes his weekly radio address, but decided to broadcast it live Saturday from the campaign trail. He is expected to trumpet good economic news and drive home his claim that if Democrats win Tuesday, taxes will increase.

On Friday, in a sweltering Le Mars, Iowa, gymnasium packed with supporters, Bush focused on the $1,000-per-child tax credit his administration helped push through Congress, saying it would drop to $500 if Democratic lawmakers chose not to renew it.

``When you get home and have dinner this evening, count the number of children you have at your table and multiple by $500,'' the president told the crowd.

``I bet somebody here has got four'' children, he said.

A supporter piped up to say he had six.

``You got six?'' Bush asked incredulously.

``You multiply those six children by $500 a head, you're a paying $3,000 more in taxes.''

His message that the economy was strong was buoyed by Friday's news that the unemployment rate had sunk to a five-year low of 4.4 percent. The figures released by the Labor Department suggested that employers are coping fairly well with a national economy that has lost a lot of momentum due to the housing slump.

Still, pockets of pain were evident. The struggling auto industry slashed jobs. So did companies involved in home building, as well as furniture makers _ casualties of the sour housing market. Retailers continued to pink-slip employees.

Bush's approval rating on the economy is at 40 percent among all adults surveyed in a recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll. Those surveyed trusted Democrats more than Republicans to handle the economy.

``The Bush economy has failed the vast majority of Americans,'' Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said. ``The reality is that the top 1 percent has benefited at the expense of most Americans, and the middle class is being squeezed as incomes slow and costs increase. We need a new direction for our economy and middle class.''

After the radio address, Bush was having breakfast with small business owners and speaking at a rally in Greeley, Colo., for GOP candidates, including Rep. Marilyn Musgrave. On Friday, Democrats unleashed a costly televised attack on Musgrave, a second-term lawmaker in an unexpectedly tight race for re-election.

Later Saturday, Bush was traveling to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he was helping first lady Laura Bush celebrate her birthday.

``I'm not going to tell you her age,'' he told a campaign crowd in Springfield, Mo., Friday. ``But we were both born in the same year, and I turned 60 this year.''