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Eyeing re-election, Bush sounds aggressive note

President Bush gestures during this week's press conference.
President Bush gestures during this week's press conference.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush gave one of his most direct and clear answers at his press conference this week when the discussion turned to his re-election bid.

Asked how he could spend $170 million for a primary in which he has no opponent, Bush quickly answered, "Just watch."

The remark drew some laughter, but also suggests that Bush will run an aggressive campaign with little worries over how much money will be spent.

"I think the American people... expect me to seek re-election," Bush said. "They expect me to actually do what candidates do." And that means raising money, something the president has shown a gift for.

"It's kind of an interesting barometer, early barometer, about the support we're garnering," Bush said of the impressive haul by his re-election campaign.

Even as he signaled his intent to run a vigorous campaign, Bush made a point of noting that he was too busy as president to be a mere politician. That's a tact favored by incumbents -- wanting to appear above the political fray.

Politics, Bush said, will come "later on." For now, "I will continue doing my job. And my job will be to work to make America more secure."

TV critic

Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia was no fan of "Green Acres." He wasn't too keen on "The Dukes of Hazzard" either. And he's downright livid over a proposed new television show dubbed "The Real Beverly Hillbillies."

Byrd, a first-rate orator, took to the Senate floor recently to berate network executives for their plans to air a program that would show Appalachian natives adjusting to life in ritzy Southern California.

The Democrat said such a program would perpetuate stereotypes that Appalachian people are "dim-witted, barefooted hillbillies."

He had another suggestion for a television series.

"We could take highly paid, well-groomed television network executives and relocate them to the sticks, where they'd have to try to find a job with health care and pension benefits and enough pay to support a family, and adjust to everyday life in rural America," Byrd said. "Now that would be funny."

Race to watch

Rep. George Nethercutt Jr. has the reputation as something of a dragon slayer on Capitol Hill, a hero of sorts to Republicans.

Nethercutt, R-Washington, defeated House Speaker Tom Foley in 1994, and now he has his eyes on a U.S. Senate seat.

Nethercutt filed campaign papers with the Federal Election Commission to challenge Sen. Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat who is seeking a third term in 2004.

This will be a race to watch. Murray is no lightweight herself. The self-described "mom in tennis shoes" won election to the Senate in 1992, the so-called "year of the woman."

--Written by CNN.Com Producer Sean Loughlin with reporting from Congressional Producer Steve Turnham.


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