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By CNJ Staff 

Republicans praise Bush vision after State of the Union address


House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, applauds President Bush as Bush’s State of the Union speech is on television at Radio Shack Tuesday at the North Plains Mall. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth.

WASHINGTON (AP) — New Mexico’s congressional delegation praised President Bush’s strong stance on national security and terrorism during his State of the Union address Tuesday, but Democrats questioned whether he was willing to put his money where his mouth is.

‘‘I think the president is correct in saying that we have to be strong on national security, that we have to continue to fight against terrorism,’’ said Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M. ‘‘My concern is I think we’re hurting. We’ve lost over 2 million jobs and it looks like many of the manufacturing jobs are never going to return. I don’t see anything that’s really going to convince me in this speech that we’re going to do anything about that.’’

Udall and fellow Democrat Sen. Jeff Bingaman expressed concern that the president may not provide the necessary funds to address health care reform and his No Child Left Behind education package.

‘‘And on the job front it sounded like his only prescription there was tax cuts. He seemed to be saying that tax cuts are solving the problem of job creation in the country and I’m skeptical about that,’’ Bingaman said.

But Republicans, like Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said the president laid out a clear leadership agenda for the coming year.

‘‘I think the president sent a message that he is very courageous and he’s a rock-solid leader, but he also sent a message clearly to the Democrats who have such an easy time pounding on him, that they’d better not think they’re going to get away without being pounded back,’’ Domenici said.

Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., said she was most eager to see the proposals Bush laid out in his speech to increase funding for advance placement and science and math programs in low-income schools, and to help small businesses afford health care.

She said the speech charted a more focused course than those offered by President Clinton, prioritizing health care, education and keeping America strong. ‘‘I think that’s not a bad agenda for America,’’ she said.

Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., said the president articulated that the country now has to ‘‘be as smart as we are strong,’’ by making tax relief permanent to support economic growth, reforming the nation’s tax laws, reducing deficits and ensuring children get the best possible education.

Bush also used the event to once again call for energy reform, although Bingaman noted that the president stopped short.

‘‘He did not say, ’Pass the Energy Bill,’’’ Bingaman said. ‘‘He said do various of the things that are contained in there,’’ including restructuring the electricity grid and reducing dependence on foreign oil.

‘‘Clearly those are proposals and goals that I think everyone in the Congress strongly supports,’’ said Bingaman.

Domenici, the Senate Energy Committee chairman, resisted any suggestion that the energy bill be broken up. He said Congress is closer to passing the legislation than at any time in the last three years, but hard work remains.

‘‘I think the president is saying to us that we need almost everything that’s in it, but he’s also saying we need to find a way to cut the cost,’’ Domenici said. ‘‘So we’re going to have a good argument with him. At least he’s kept it alive as something important.’’

Local reactions

Clovis residents and newsmakers respond to President Bush's State of the Union address.

"One comment was about schools and the responsibility of teachers for achievement in schools. He forgets one thing — that students themselves must be held accountable along with teachers. … The Democrats did not rise during the ovations. Yet many of his remarks were along the lines the Democrats have been trying to get, just said in different language. Their reaction didn’t make sense to me.”

— Bob Standridge

Clovis resident

"I liked what he said

and I think he did a good job of trying to unify America. He noted that tax reform has helped boost the economy and I liked that. Late in the speech he talked about some moral issues, school reform, faith-based charities and the idea that the only real protection against sexually transmitted diseases is abstinence. I appreciate his boldness in saying that, even though it may not be the most popular stand.”

— Albin Smith

Curry County commissioner

"What he said about Medicare bothers me, because I’m very concerned about Medicare. I’m afraid the bill they recently passed will be the end of Medicare. … As for the war in Iraq, we thought we won a war, but I don’t know. We’ve got 500 dead. … One’s too many.”

— Gloria Wicker

Clovis city commissioner

I thought it was an excellent speech myself. I thought he covered a lot of the things the folks in the United States are concerned about and would like to hear the president’s thoughts on. That’s the best speech I’ve ever seen him give. He used to kind of pause a little bit and fidget a little bit. It’s hard to make those kind of speeches.”

— State Sen. Stuart Ingle



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