Bush says Clinton State of Union speech shows need for big tax cut

By Walter R. Mears, Associated Press, 01/28/00

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. -- George W. Bush said today that President Clinton's State of the Union address showed that the president and Bush's Republican rival John McCain "agree on the size of the tax cut."

"It's not significant enough," Bush said of the $350 billion, 10-year tax cut proposed by Clinton. Arizona Sen. McCain, who leads in polls for Tuesday's Republican presidential primary, has proposed a $237 billion, five-year reduction.

Bush has proposed greater tax cuts, but McCain says more money should be used for reducing the national debt.

Bush was endorsed today by former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, once his father's White House chief of staff.

"I would like to urge the good conservative voters in New Hampshire to support Governor Bush," said Sununu, who managed the elder Bush's New Hampshire victory in 1988.

Sununu, who supported former Vice President Dan Quayle until he dropped out of the 2000 race, predicted Bush would win the state primary despite McCain's edge in the polls.

Sununu denied there was ever a breach between himself and the younger Bush, who reportedly delivered word that Sununu should resign from President Bush's White House in 1991 after Sununu's performance came under fire among some top Republicans.

"I have never had a problem with any conversations I have had with Governor Bush," Sununu said.

Sununu and Bush stood side-by-side in the lobby of Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., where Bush had come for a tour and a speech. "I am proud to have his support," Bush said.

McCain's reaction: "The establishment is very worried. That's why you see a parade of people backing Bush."

Bush, who has been saying since the debate Wednesday night that McCain's tax plans are too close to the administration's, said the State of the Union message proved his point.

He said he proposes cutting taxes by $483 billion over five years so that surplus money won't be left for Washington spenders.

"The president has spent all the money he could possibly spend and then he had a little left over for a tax cut," Bush said.

Meanwhile, Steve Forbes' campaign brought several current and former Texas education officials to an event today to criticize Bush's record back home.

"The bottom line is that Governor Bush's record on education is one of broken promises and politics as usual," said Bob Offut, a member of the Texas Board of Education.

Bush's reaction: "I have got a great record in the state of Texas."

"This is about negative campaigning," Bush said. "Mr. Forbes tried to do the same thing to Bob Dole in 1996."

Forbes also began a new ad in which he talks about his plans for Social Security and taxes. He tells voters if conservatives unite, he can win.

McCain, meanwhile, criticized a New York state judge's decision to throw him off the March 7 primary ballot in eight of the state's 31 congressional districts. McCain is taking the issue to federal court.

McCain also is broadcasting a new television ad in New Hampshire, stressing his reform message, promising to return government "to whom it belongs, the people."

He said he can run stronger against a Democratic ticket led by Vice President Al Gore because "Bush stands mute on campaign finance reform...

"It's much easier for me to attack Clinton and Gore because I have the high ground," said the Arizona senator, who also reissued his challenge to Bush to run a positive campaign. The two promised to do just that with a hand shake earlier this month.

Addressing the New Hampshire House of Representatives in Concord, GOP rival Alan Keyes focused on abortion, saying supporters of abortion rights are at odds with their hearts, and that Bush and McCain don't believe their own positions on the issue.

"I watch now on the Republican side as they get tripped up in their own words," said Keyes, who also applauded New Hampshire's lack of a state income tax.

Bush and McCain oppose abortion, but would permit it in cases of rape or incest, or when continuing the pregnancy would jeopardize a woman's life.

Campaigning in the front hall of an 1830 colonial home in Jaffrey, Bush said there's ample surplus money to cut taxes, protect Social Security and reduce the debt. At the stop, a house party at Clair and Christopher Bean's, townspeople crowded the first floor to listen to Bush for more than an hour. He urged supporters to take their friends to the polls, and thanked undecided voters, "what I call the tire kickers," for hearing him out.

But Joseph Manning, the state representative from Jaffrey, isn't one of them. He is McCain's town campaign chairman who, naturally, thinks McCain will win Tuesday, boosted by the votes of independents.

"But the problem is, where does he go from here?" Manning said.

Bush said he is "from the school of thought that cutting taxes will encourage economic growth."