Bush Focuses on Economy, Jobs and the Deficit
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
There was a resignation at the White House today. Susan Ralston, a special assistant to President Bush, stepped down. One week ago, she was cited in a Congressional report as having frequent contacts with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who will soon begin a prison sentence for influence peddling.
NPR's David Greene has the story.
DAVID GREENE: This was a day when President Bush was trying to change the subject away from former Congressman Mark Foley and Congressional pages. He went over to a FedEx facility in Washington and talked up the economy.
President GEORGE W. BUSH: Today we got more good news. The national unemployment rate is down to 4.6 percent. We've added 6.6 million new jobs since August of 2003.
GREENE: There was also good news on the federal budget deficit, pegged at $250 billion for the fiscal year just ended, down from $318 billion last year.
But in the afternoon, the White House disclosed that Susan Ralston, a special assistant to the president, had resigned. Ralston once worked for lobbyist Jack Abramoff, then came to the White House originally to work for Karl Rove, the president's chief strategist.
White House aides have said Abramoff had few ties here but a Republican-led Congressional inquiry counted 485 White House contacts by Abramoff and his associates, including ten with Rove.
The White House said today that Ralston recognized a protracted discussion of these matters would be a distraction.
David Greene, NPR News, the White House.
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