Bush's First 100 Days: Linda Chavez interview

Well, first of all, President Bush cares a lot about education. This is not just having picked this issue because it's going to play well with the public. This is something he cares deeply about. It's something that he tried to have an impact on in his own state in Texas, and it's something that he devoted a lot of time to. It's something he understands well, I think.

So I think the fact that he started with it was good politically, but I also think it's because it came from the heart. It's something he really wanted to do, but it did play well politically.

It also played well to constituencies that are going to be very important to his reelection. It played very well to women. As you know, the Republican Party has not done as well with women as the party would like in the last few elections. And starting with an issue that's going to affect families and is going to be very appealing to women I think was a, was an important decision.

Also, it's a decision to take on an issue that's going to be important in the minority communities. After all, it is public education which is going to most determine the future for black and brown kids in this country. If they don't start doing better in school, if they don't have better education programs available to them, that's going to determine their futures.

Perhaps less success on the faith-based initiative. You know, again, good, good presentation in terms of control of the message, but pretty quickly critiques coming in from both the left and right, maybe resulting in a, in a fuzzier, fuzzier sell of this particular issue.

Well, the faith-based initiative response is an interesting one because I think a lot of people would expect criticism from the left and criticism from those who for a very, very strong separation of church and state. That was perfectly to be expected.

I think what a lot of people weren't expecting was that there was some concern within the religious community that this kind of infusion of money into programs sponsored by churches might tend to water down the religious message of those religious organizations. That, I think, was a surprise to a lot of folks.

And the tax cut plan, which no doubt will come to dominate the 100 days, but it's also a part of those early, those early weeks, didn't really retailor the message very much from the, from the campaign, and people have raised the question, you know, of the election being so close, and the tax plan not seeming to really have caught fire in the public. Do you think he's done a better job, after gaining the White House, of selling it both to the Hill and to the public?

I think the tax issue is a core issue for President Bush. Everybody was telling him that this was not going to be a winning issue in the campaign, and yet he stuck with it, didn't make many revisions throughout the campaign, even though he got criticism for the plan, and I think you're going to see the same thing throughout his, his effort with the Hill.

He believes that we need a rate tax — tax rate, rather, reductions. He thinks that the way to get tax reform is really to reduce rates, and it has to be across the board, and that means that those changes are going to affect people at all income levels. And I think that he has a very, very strong belief in the efficacy of his plan, and I don't think he's going to budge.

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