The Note

"The president is taking his optimistic message about the strength of America's economy to Ohio today where he will take on critics of his pro-growth agenda. He will chide critics of free and fair trade by calling the old policies of 'tax and spend' the 'enemy of job creation' and describing economic isolationism as a 'recipe for economic disaster.'"

Moran reports that Bush will assert that trade is the path to growth, and will Note that 10 percent of Honda's international work force consists of U.S. workers, and that many thousands of Ohio workers are employed by overseas firms. The campaign looks at trade as a winning issue for them -- expect the world view through the Bush-Cheney lens to be that John Kerry, who he is not expected to mention by name this morning, is a dour protectionist in contrast to his optimistic policies.

The President, Moran Notes, "will say 'some in Washington' would hamper trade by restricting companies' ability to do business efficiently by, for example, imposing a waiting period on international movements (outsourcing). This, Bush will argue, is a 'fearful and pessimistic' policy that would 'mark a retreat to protectionism.'"

Some excerpts:

"That old policy of tax and spend is the enemy of job creation. The old policy of economic isolationism is a recipe for economic disaster. America has moved beyond that tired defeatist mindset, and we're not going back."

Also, "Some politicians in Washington see this new challenge and want to respond in old ways. Their agenda is to increase federal taxes, build a wall around our economy and isolate America from the rest of the world."

Travers Notes that this is the second time this week Bush has taken on his critics, and is trying to go on offense on the economy in a state where the Democrats have certainly gotten their licks in.

Speaking of trade, ABC News' Ramona Schindelheim reports that according to Commerce Department and Census Bureau numbers, the trade deficit rose to a record $43.1 billion in January. Imports and exports both dropped, Schindelheim reports, though imports had their second-best month ever. Consumers continue to buy cheaper foreign-made goods, and businesses increased their imports of parts, engines and industrial supplies. The growing trade deficit with China, Schindelhiem Notes, is the source of much of the larger trade deficit overall.

The Associated Press -- with loud understatement -- says "Bush's latest visit to Ohio suggested he was not entirely confident about keeping the state in his column this November. He has returned there again and again to reassure workers he is trying to stem job losses." LINK

Kerry has a full day in D.C., as he continues to don the cloak of presumptive nominee, after winning 256 (thus far) of 465 delegates last night.

The Bay Stater starts the day in Chicago, where he addresses the AFL-CIO Executive Council Meeting by satellite. Then when he hits the Nation's Capital, he sits down with his former rival Howard Dean at 3:00 pm ET and then with the good folks over at the Democratic National Committee at 5:00 pm ET.

Meanwhile, the papers cover the various manifestations of what happens when a general election breaks out near full force in March in the post-McCain-Feingold-Shays-Meehan world:

-- The New York Times' Adam Nagourney reports on the President's aggressive engagement, including that official BC04 ads that will "directly" take on John Kerry are "about to start." LINK

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