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Having failed in his efforts to rewrite the tax code and extend expiring tax cuts — and with the prospect of losing the “fast-track” trade authority — Mr. Bush could be more willing to compromise, said one presidential scholar.

“With the number of compromises he’s had to make in this legacy-building effort, it may be that to win passage has become more important than to maintain the integrity of the proposal,” said Paul C. Light, a professor at New York University and Brookings Institution scholar.

“This is the last gasp of the administration, and I think they understand it,” he said.

Mr. Bush did not help his own cause yesterday. “You know, I’ve heard all the rhetoric — you’ve heard it, too — about how this is amnesty,” the president told advocates of his immigration overhaul during an event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

“Amnesty means that you’ve got to pay a price for having been here illegally, and this bill does that.”

An hour later, Mr. Snow issued a clarification. “Earlier today, in speaking about comprehensive immigration reform, President Bush misspoke,” he said.

“This has been construed as an assertion that the comprehensive immigration reform legislation before the Senate offers amnesty to immigrants who came here illegally,” he said. “That is the exact opposite of the president’s long-held and often-stated position.”

c Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.