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Bush Caps Calif. Visit with Immigration Speech

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Bush Caps Calif. Visit with Immigration Speech

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Bush Caps Calif. Visit with Immigration Speech

Bush Caps Calif. Visit with Immigration Speech

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President Bush wraps up a four-day trip to California on Monday with a speech in Orange County about immigration. Newsweek White House correspondent Richard Wolffe, traveling with the president, talks with Madeleine Brand about the president's trip to the Golden State.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

From NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Madeleine Brand. Alex Chadwick is on assignment.

Coming up, California juries deliberate the fate of a father and son accused in a terror trial. But first, President Bush wraps up his California visit today. He spoke to business leaders in Irvine about one of the hottest issues in the state: immigration.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: I believe that immigration has helped reinvigorate the soul of America. I know that when somebody comes to our country because he or she has a dream and is willing to work hard for that dream it makes America a better place.

BRAND: Joining us to talk about the President's speech is Richard Wolffe. He's senior White House correspondent for Newsweek magazine.

And Richard, Orange County is overall a pretty conservative place. It's been at the forefront of the immigration debate. How was the President's message received?

Mr. RICHARD WOLFFE (White House Correspondent, Newsweek): Well, it's been received pretty well. He has done his usual two-track approach to this, first of all stressing border security but moving very quickly into positive statements about the contributions of immigrants and calling for, again, his temporary worker program to be passed.

He did face one pointed question, which was whether he knew any illegal immigrants from Texas. And he said he didn't.

BRAND: And was he actually speaking to Washington, to the members of Congress who have returned from spring break and who have yet to do anything on immigration?

Mr. WOLFFE: Well, partly, but, you know, the White House also thinks he does well in reaching out to local and regional press in making his case, because a lot of the opposition to immigration, his immigration plans, has come from members of Congress, from especially districts in the border regions.

And really the more political Washington focus thus came behind the scenes where his aides were making much more partisan comments from the President himself, criticizing Harry Reid and the Senate Minority Leader, what they call his procedural gimmicks blocking the legislation a couple of weeks ago.

BRAND: And this visit to California was also a political visit. And how did he get along with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger? The two haven't always seen eye to eye in the past.

Mr. WOLFFE: No, they haven't. And I don't think they see eye to eye together today.

The President seemed genuinely appreciative that the Governor was there. And I think that was the most important comment, in a way, that they worked on things side by side. It was very public. It was very open.

But there are real differences. The President has, I guess, traveled some way towards a generally Californian position on things like the environment, on hybrid vehicles, which the President has been talking about a lot on this trip. But on a whole range of subjects there's still a big gap between the President's positions and where California Republicans are.

BRAND: And the President made appearances up and down the state this weekend. What kind of reception did he receive overall?

Mr. WOLFFE: Well, remember, he was raising a lot of money across the state, a traditional function, I'm afraid, for California politics. And of course those people donating and raising a lot of money for him were very supportive.

But we have seen significant protests as we landed here in Irvine. And also in Napa Valley there were a lot of protests, a lot of security, about a whole range of things. But especially, of course, the war.

BRAND: Richard Wolffe is senior White House correspondent for Newsweek magazine. Thank you for joining us.

Mr. WOLFFE: Thank you.

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