Facebook Twitter



Bush speeds up ozone battle, Page A2.WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush Wednesday formally launched his re-election campaign, telling a cheering crowd, "I want to continue serving as your president four more years."

"From this moment on I am a candidate for president of the United States, officially," Bush said.Wednesday's announcement was hardly a surprise. Bush already has raised $11 million for his re-election drive and is on the ballot in 26 states. He enters the race with diminished popularity in polls amid widespread anxiety about the economy.

Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle launched their campaign at a Lincoln's birthday rally at a downtown hotel before 1,000 of their most loyal supporters. The audience cheered them with calls of "Four more years!"

Later, the president was flying to Manchester, N.H., for a day of campaigning before its leadoff primary next Tuesday.

Bush was introduced by his wife, Barbara, who presented him as "the person I love and respect most in the world: the next president of the United States."

Bush told the gathering, "We're gathered here because the American people wanted leadership and we answered the call.

"And we didn't do the easy things. We did the right things," he said.

"From day one, I fought for strong and effective national defense, I stuck to my principles and we kept strong and we won the Cold War."

Bush took a veiled swipe at his conservative challenger, commentator Patrick Buchanan, who is running his GOP campaign on a theme of "America First."

"The American people do not believe in isolationism because they believe in themselves," Bush said. "We Americans do not hide from a good test of our ability. We rise to the challenge. Our national bird is the eagle, not the ostrich.

"Let's not kid ourselves," the president said. "We're in a tough fight. I don't seek unnecessary conflict but when principle is at stake I fight to win. Together we will win, I am certain of that."

"I came here to do important work, and I finish what I start," Bush declared.

In a broadside at the Democratic-controlled Congress, Bush vowed, "This year we say `No more' to those who want to obstruct progress. We say get moving or get out of the way. We've got an agenda."

The crowd erupted again into chants of "Four more years!"

"We've got an agenda," Bush continued, "and here's what we will do: Together we'll get our economy up and running at full speed.

"We'll restore decency to the American way of life. We will silence the voices of hatred and gloom."

Although he faces a spirited challenge from Buchanan, Bush is looking beyond that battle to the fight he faces with Congress over his economic recovery package.

Bush, huddling Tuesday with Republicans from the House Ways and Means Committee, reiterated his resolve to get that package passed by March 20 "to get some people back to work."