WASHINGTON – President Bush is scheduled to speak Wednesday in Iowa for the first time since the election,to promote his plan for Social Security reform.
This stop is a part of an administration tour of the country,“60 Stops in 60 Days,” which includes state visits by Vice President Cheney,cabinet members and policy experts. The president's visit,planned for Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids,makes Iowa the president's 19th state visit.
Allen Abney,a White House spokesman,said the tour has focused on Social Security reform,pushing the president's plan for personal savings accounts – not privatization,which Abney said is a common misconception.
“The president wants to save and strengthen Social Security by reforming the system to give younger citizens the opportunity for ownership,” he said. “The president has traveled a lot around the country and has enjoyed talking directly with the American people.”
Sen. Charles Grassley,R-Iowa,said Tuesday in a conference call with farm broadcasters that he expects the president will try to visit states with strong Democratic opposition on the subject.
“He is not leaving any stone unturned,” Grassley said. “I'm glad he's coming.”
Iowa Democratic Party chair,Lt. Governor Sally Pederson,said in a Tuesday conference call with reporters that Iowans are ready to welcome the president but will be “honest” about what they think of the his idea.
“I hope when the president comes here he is willing to listen to all Iowans,” she said. “They want to see the details,and when they look at the details … they see that it weakens Social Security.”
Pederson said Iowans might be skeptical,but they still see the need to change Social Security,which she said,“affects the lives of a large number of Iowans.”
“We want to see Social Security strengthened,but we want to get it right,” she said.
This will be the only state visit President Bush makes this week. He spent Tuesday at the White House meeting with Iraqi law students and making public remarks about freedom and democracy.