Canton Repository

April 24, 2003

Canton is one of Bush’s first tax-cut tour stops

Copley Washington correspondent

WASHINGTON — President Bush’s visit today to Stark County is one of the first of what are expected to be many trips around the country to drum up support for a $550 billion tax cut he says will stimulate the economy.

Bush was scheduled to deliver a speech on his economic growth and jobs package, or tax cut, at the Timken Research facility in Jackson Township this morning. After the speech, he was to fly to the Lima Tank Plant to discuss the war in Iraq before returning to Washington.

Part of the president’s goal in making Ohio one of the first stops on his tax-cut tour, many believe, is to pressure Sen. George V. Voinovich, R-Cleveland, to drop his opposition to a tax cut higher than $350 billion.

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said Wednesday that Bush “is going to travel to numerous states to make the case for his economic-growth stimulus package and for the tax cut.”

The first such trip was last week to St. Louis.

The administration has not spelled out why Bush chose Stark County or the Timken facility for the speech.

Among the likely factors is that Bush is almost certain to receive a warm welcome at Timken, a 104-year-old leading manufacturer of bearings and steel. Another factor is that Stark County is considered to be, in political terms, unusually representative of the nation as a whole.

“The Timken family and company have long argued for reduced taxes of the sort the president is advocating to spur growth,” said John Green, political science professor at University of Akron.

W.R. “Tim” Timken Jr., the company chairman, contributed to Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign and was recently appointed by the president to head the Securities Investor Protection Corp., which protects investments when brokerages are liquidated. Timken is former chairman of the National Association of Manufacturers.

About 40 minutes have been set aside for Bush’s speech. The invited audience includes close to 700 Timken employees representing various company facilities, company spokesman Mike Johnson said.

“This will stand out as one of the more momentous occasions in the company’s history, being able to host a United States president at a time that certainly is going to be long remembered in our nation’s history,” Johnson said.

Bush’s visit is the second by a president to Timken. In 1984, President Reagan spoke at the Timken Co.’s Faircrest Steel Plant in Perry Township.

Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, and Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Cedarville, will accompany the president. Regula, whose congressional district includes all of Stark County, planned to travel with the president on Air Force One to Akron-Canton Regional Airport and get out there rather than continuing on to Lima.

Voinovich will not attend either the Stark County or Lima events, but he plans to meet the president when he lands in Dayton on the way to Lima. Voinovich had a previously scheduled event at a Veterans Hospital in Dayton and a long-planned meeting with the editorial board of the Dayton Daily News.