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President Bush Addresses Departure of Senator Jeffords

Aired May 24, 2001 - 11:33   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go forthwith to Cleveland, Ohio -- live pictures, the president of the United States there to talk about faith-based initiatives -- but you can bet Mr. Jeffords on his mind.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a privilege for me to be here with Bishop Pilla, whose reputation at least has preceded him as far as the president goes. I've been looking forward for this opportunity to meet such a fine, noble man, firmly committed to helping the poor. So Bishop, thank you so much for being here, sir.

I'm honored also to have been welcomed by Sister Ambro (ph). The Sister is pretty firm in her...

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

She kept us on time. I'm thankful to be here with distinguished public servants from the state of Ohio, your governor, lieutenant governor -- both very good friends of mine. Thank you all for being here.

Two fine United States Senators, Mike DeWine and George Voinovich, traveled with me from Washington today. I think you're going back. But Ohio is well represented in the halls of the United States Senate with these two fine Americans.

And two members of the United States Congress, Steve LaTourrette and Tony Hall from south Ohio, over here as well. Thank you all for traveling with us today.

Tony is not from this area, but I can assure you that if you got to know him, you would know that he shares the same passion most of us do for figuring out ways to help people in need.

The other thing that I want to make note of is that Tony is a Democrat, and what we're going to talk about today is not a party issue. The idea of helping people transcends political party. And so, Tony, thank you for coming. I want to thank Pam Delli (ph), the principal of Our Lady of Angels, for the tour and the opportunity to meet the students here. And I want to thank Dennis McNulty, the director of Catholic Charity Services as well.

I want to start off with a comment about some news.

This morning a distinguished United States senator chose to leave the Republican Party and become an Independent. I respect Senator Jeffords, but, respectfully, I couldn't disagree more.

Our agenda for reforming America's public schools and providing tax relief for every taxpayer represents the hopes and dreams of mainstream America. Our agenda for reforming our military and modernizing our military to defend America and our allies represents the best hope for peace.

I was elected to get things done on behalf of the American people and to work with both Republicans and Democrats, and we're doing just that. Just yesterday in the United States Senate, Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly agreed that we should provide tax relief for every single American who pays taxes. The Senate has now passed tax relief and so has the House, and I call on Congress not to recess for Memorial Day until they have finished the job and provided tax relief for the American people.

And we're making great progress on education as well. Just yesterday in the House of Representatives, Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly agreed that we should insist upon local control of schools, strong accountability and greater options for parents when their children are trapped in failing schools. The Senate now takes up the education bill, and I am confident we will enact a plan to improve all of America's public schools so that no child is left behind.

As well as, I mentioned, I'm working hard with both Republicans and Democrats to put in place a faith-based initiative that I truly believe will change America for the better.

Last weekend, I spoke at one of America's great Catholic universities. The chairman of the board I think is here somewhere. Thank you very much, Pat, for letting me come. I was deeply honored.

Today, I'm pleased to visit one of America's great Catholic parishes. Notre Dame and St. Augustine may seem...

O'BRIEN: You've been listening to President Bush -- live pictures from Cleveland, Ohio. As the subject turns to faith-based initiatives, we will take that particular aspect of our coverage off of live coverage. We will bring you, of course, a report on what he had a little later on CNN.

But the essence of what he had to say: "I respect Senator Jeffords, but respectfully could not disagree more," and went on to defend his agenda and then call upon Congress not to recess for the holiday weekend until that big tax relief bill is passed. We are following this story, the decision of Mr. Jeffords to switch parties, all throughout the day here on CNN. Stay with us for more.

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