TAYLOR — President Bush, introduced by former University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler, campaigned Monday evening in a blue-collar suburb that voted overwhelmingly against him in the 2000 election.

Ashley Dinges
President George W. Bush, introduced by Bo Schembechler, speaks at a campaign rally at Heritage Community Park in Taylor, Mich. on Monday, August 30, 2004. (TONY DING/Daily)

While promoting his 2001 tax cuts as a vital stimulus for the economic recovery and crediting them with the creation of 1.5 million jobs in the past year, Bush conceded that the recovery has “lagged” in Michigan. He pledged to work for a strong environment for job creation.

Michigan’s unemployment rate in July was 6.8 percent, a number tied with Oregon’s for second-highest nationwide. The national average rate is 5.5 percent.

After praising the automotive industry for “making the cleanest cars and trucks in history” and pledging to cut pollution from diesel vehicles, Bush attacked Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry for proposing “arbitrary, unfair fuel standards that could cost Michigan thousands of jobs and make our cars less safe.”

In a 2002 letter to Kerry and other Democratic senators, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta criticized the Democrats for voting against an amendment to a fuel-efficiency bill that would have added safety as a criterion in setting fuel-efficiency standards. He warned that stricter standards could lead to a decrease in car safety by encouraging automakers to produce smaller and lighter cars.

Kerry has pledged $10 billion to help auto companies retool their factories to make more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Bush poked fun at Kerry for a recent episode in which he praised the Ohio State University football team in front of a Michigan crowd, then attempted to make up for his error by calling the University of Michigan team a “powerhouse of a team.”

“I’m running against a fellow who … has taken both sides of every issue,” Bush said. “And now we can add Big Ten football to that list.”

In a brief introductory speech, Schembechler endorsed the president and took a swipe at other popular figures who have loudly supported Democrats in recent months.

“I hear all these other people around the country, Hollywood and everywhere, expounding … ” he said, trailing off as the crowd erupted in jeers. “I want you to know that Bo Schembechler is for the president of the United States.”

Maurice Marentette, a letter carrier from Lincoln Park, said he appreciated Bush’s remarks on tax cuts but felt his message on environmental issues was too moderate.

“I think he should be more for deregulation,” Marentette said. “When you have environmental regulation, that hurts jobs.”

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