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Bush gets advice for State of the Union speech

Democrats urge focus on domestic issues

Sen. Charles Schumer of New York is one of several Democrats calling on the president to focus on domestic matters.
Sen. Charles Schumer of New York is one of several Democrats calling on the president to focus on domestic matters.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The president has yet to deliver a single line from his upcoming State of the Union address, but Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill are already talking about what the president will say, offering advice on what he should cover and why.

Several Senate Democrats held a news conference Thursday to outline issues they want to see Bush address in Tuesday's address to the nation. They said he should focus less attention on Baghdad and more on "moms and dads" at home.

"We are certain the president will speak to issues relative to terrorism and security, North Korea and Iraq," said Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Illinois.

"But our issues and our focus should not just be on Baghdad but on the issues that moms and dads across America are truly concerned about every single day."

White House aides have said a good portion of Bush's speech would be devoted to domestic affairs.

Bush has offered something of a highlight of his address in recent comments, in which he touts his 10-year, roughly $674 billion economic plan. Aides said he will likely talk about his plan and proposed tax cuts in Tuesday's speech.

Saddam likely topic

On the international front, Bush and top aides have spent considerable time in recent days making a case for possible military action against Iraq's Saddam Hussein.

"The president and his State of the Union speech will talk about this issue with the American people," Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, predicted in an interview with CNN.

"He will again describe the threats that we face and the reasons why he will take the action that he has to take if there is non-compliance."

Durbin said Americans are more concerned about economic security, homeland security, the state of their local schools, and the quality and cost of health care and prescription drugs than they are about threats overseas.

"American people are anxious," said Sen. Jon Corzine, D-New Jersey. "Nothing makes people more insecure than the thought that they might not have a job in America's economy.

"We've seen 2.4 million private sector jobs lost under this president, and I think he needs to speak to how we're going to get our economy going, how we're going to create jobs and have real economic growth."

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said recently that "a significant portion" of Bush's address would be devoted to the economy.

"As much as international issues remain very important priorities for this president, he still is moving robustly and aggressively on a domestic agenda, and he will, and I think that'll be very plain when people hear his State of Union address," Fleischer said.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, called the Bush administration's anti-terrorism efforts "schizophrenic" because they provide no new money for homeland security.

"I've said to the people at the White House that you say you need all the resources to fight the war overseas, but to fight the war on terror at home with no money is like saying let's fight the war in Iraq with no new money," Schumer said. "It makes no sense whatsoever."


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