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Bush attends 911 memorial then fundraiser

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Bush Attends 9/11 Memorial, Fund-Raiser
Bush Attends N.Y. Memorial for Sept. 11 Terrorism Victims, Followed by a Fund-Raiser

The Associated Press

BAY SHORE, N.Y. March 11 Touching on issues of jobs and terrorism, two themes of his re-election campaign, President Bush called "economic isolationism" bad policy and planned to break ground on a memorial for victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"People are saying we'll stop jobs from going overseas by making sure we put up walls and barriers between the United States and the rest of the world. That's lousy policy," Bush said in a veiled reference to rival John Kerry.

The presumptive Democratic nominee has supported international trade pacts but considering the U.S. jobs migrating overseas, favors a review to ensure their fairness. The president spoke at Bay Industries, a Long Island, N.Y., automotive parts plant that has increased its numbers of jobs from eight to 221 workers during the past 18 years.

"Consumer prices will go up if we wall ourselves from the rest of the world," he said. "Economic isolationism is bad economic policy and it will cost people jobs."

The focus of the president's trip to New York, however, was on terrorism the centerpiece of his campaign for re-election.

Bush used images from the World Trade Center's smoldering wreckage in his first re-election TV commercials last week, and refused to retreat when critics called them crass exploitation of those killed in the attacks.

In the second wave of campaign ads, Bush on Thursday unleashed negative attacks against Kerry, criticizing the Democrat on taxes and defense.

Before attending a fund-raiser on Long Island, Bush was to be among the first digging shovels of dirt at the groundbreaking for a new Sept. 11 memorial in East Meadow, a New York City suburb.

Rebutting Democrats who criticized Bush for attending the fund-raiser after the memorial, White House press secretary Scott McClellan explained that Bush was invited to the memorial on Feb. 17 by the Nassau County executive and the board of the memorial foundation after they heard about the fund-raiser, which was scheduled in mid-January.

The quarrel over the ads was shadowing Bush, as at least two groups announced plans to protest his visit.

"No one's been held accountable for anything about 9-11," said Bill Doyle, who lost his 25-year-old son, Joseph, at the World Trade Center. Doyle, who also criticized the image in Bush's campaign commercial of the flag-draped remains of a victim being carried from ground zero, said he intends to be at the demonstration.

"I have a problem with exploiting death for political gain," he said. "I'd have the same problem if Democrats used images of body bags coming back from Iraq in one of their ads."

The $750,000 memorial will feature two semitransparent aluminum towers, representing the World Trade Center, rising 30 feet from a reflecting pool. It will also have a wall with the names of 281 victims who lived in or had ties to Nassau County, N.Y., and two pieces of steel from the trade center's wreckage.

It is expected to be completed in time for September's third anniversary of the attacks.

Beside Bush, New York Gov. George Pataki, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., were also attending the commemoration. Both Pataki and Giuliani have defended Bush's use of Sept. 11 in the campaign.

Afterward, the group of politicians were making the five-minute trip to Bush's fund-raiser. Bush has raised more than $160 million for his re-election and shows no sign of slowing down as he approaches his stated goal of $170 million.

Both Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, were on separate money-raising trips as well.

Bush had long planned his Long Island fund-raiser, and when the organizers of the memorial groundbreaking heard the president was coming, they invited him, aides said.

Bush started the day by tending to his conservative base with satellite remarks to the National Association of Evangelicals Convention in Colorado. He used the occasion to issue a fresh appeal for support of his national-security agenda, with a special emphasis on his "compassionate conservative" goals.

Associated Press Writer Frank Eltman in Garden City, N.Y., contributed to this report.

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