RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
President Bush yesterday was on the road, where he'll be spending a lot of time between now and the midterm elections. He likes to acknowledge in every speech that Democrats are optimistic, as polls show they have reason to be. But the president insists his party will hold its majorities in both houses of Congress on November 7th.
The president visited Iowa and Michigan yesterday, and NPR's David Greene went along for the ride.
DAVID GREENE: The president calls it conventional wisdom in Washington that his party will suffer major losses on Election Day. But when he appeared at the Iowa State Fairgrounds yesterday for a Republican House candidate, Mr. Bush's message was don't count us out yet.
President GEORGE W. BUSH: This campaign only ends after the voters have had a chance to speak. No doubt in my mind, with your help, Dave Lamberti will be the next United States congressman.
(Soundbite of applause)
GREENE: Mr. Bush meant to say Jeff Lamberti, and it was an uncharacteristic mistake for him. He stresses the personal in politics and rarely gets names wrong at a rally. But in this speech he called the candidate Dave several times.
Pres. BUSH: Dave and I believe a lot of things. We believe that you ought to keep more of your own money. We believe in family values. We believe values are important.
GREENE: Values had not been an expected focus of the speech. The economy and Iraq were to be the featured subjects, But he decided to bring up values in response to a New Jersey state Supreme Court decision on Wednesday. It held that committed same-sex couples should enjoy the same legal rights as married couples. The court left it to state lawmakers to decide if same-sex couples could marry under state law. But Mr. Bush nevertheless said he viewed the ruling as a threat.
Pres. BUSH: Yesterday in New Jersey, we had another activist court issue a ruling that raises doubts about the institution of marriage. I believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. And I believe...
(Soundbite of applause)
GREENE: When the president did turn to Iraq, he took aim at House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi for suggesting, as many Democrats have, that invading Afghanistan was justified but going into Iraq was not.
Pres. BUSH: Her position on the war on terror, that it is contained only to Afghanistan, would come as news to the people in London and Madrid and Amman and Bali and Beslan and Riyadh and Istanbul and Casablanca and other cities where the terrorists have massacred and murdered innocent men, women and children.
GREENE: Both parties see the election turning on the issue of security. Democrats talk of failed policies. The president at every appearance suggests the Democrats just don't understand this is a dangerous world, while Republicans do.
Pres. BUSH: And I'm proud to be standing here with Jeff Lamberti, who understands the stakes in this war.
GREENE: Jeff Lamberti is running behind in the polls. So is Mike Bouchard, the Michigan Senate candidate Mr. Bush made an appearance for yesterday. On Air Force One, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino was asked why the president was spending some of the precious remaining campaign time on two underdogs. She said simply that the White House thinks these candidates and many other Republicans will still win, no matter what the polls say.
David Greene, NPR News, Warren, Michigan.
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