- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 7, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Days after her party lost congressional seats and the White House race, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi struck a conciliatory tone during yesterday’s Democratic radio address, saying House Democrats “stand ready to work with” President Bush, who, in his own address, vowed to fight hard for his political agenda while reaching across the aisle.

The message from Mrs. Pelosi was in stark contrast to the pre-election combativeness of late September when she used the same forum to call the president’s Iraq war a “grotesque mistake.”

Now in the immediate aftermath of a bitterly fought election, Mrs. Pelosi summoned Republican cooperation on initiatives she said both parties should support — better jobs, health care and education. She called for “more discourse and less discord” in the Congress, but still pledged to not budge on issues where the two parties diverge.

“There are places where we differ, as well, and Democrats will stand our ground,” the California Democrat said.

Tuesday’s election resulted in Republican gains of four seats in the Senate and at least three in the House.

Mr. Bush offered some words of conciliation, saying that Republicans and Democrats can agree to aggressively pursue the war on terror, with every citizen having a stake in the outcome.

“Americans are expecting bipartisan effort and results,” he said. “My administration will work with both parties in Congress to achieve those results, and to meet the responsibility we share.”

The challenge to working together, Mr. Bush suggested, will come on the domestic front.

“We must confront the junk and frivolous lawsuits that are driving up the cost of health care and hurting doctors and patients,” the president said. “We must continue to work on education reform to bring high standards and accountability, not just to elementary schools, but to the high schools as well.”

Mr. Bush’s proposed education reforms may meet the same criticism that he faced in his first term with the No Child Left Behind Act: a good idea that was insufficiently funded by the administration and Congress.

The president stressed another issue that has generated skepticism at home and abroad, promoting freedom and democracy in the Middle East. Those goals are “the alternatives to tyranny and terror,” he said.

Mr. Bush also promised to take on the special interest-clogged issue of reforming the tax code, a step he said the nation must take to get rid of needless paperwork and to make the economy more competitive.

Describing the country as one divided along partisan lines, Mrs. Pelosi said the split, “rather than being an excuse for inaction, must be a call to compromise and common sense. … I hope that in this term President Bush will fulfill his renewed promise to be a uniter, not a divider.”

“A new term is indeed a new opportunity to bring America together,” she said. “House Democrats stand ready to work with the president.”

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