President Bush, trying to escape blame for higher taxes, accused the Democratic-controlled Congress on Friday of creating the federal budget mess that made him abandon his no-new-tax pledge.
Bush also accused Democrats of playing politics with the civil rights bill that he had vetoed on the grounds that it would force employers to adopt hiring and promotion quotas."They're sitting around up there now," Bush said of Congress. Referring to his alternative hiring-discrimination proposal, Bush said, "They could pass it in 20 minutes if there was a genuine interest in civil rights and less interest in trying to embarrass the president of the United States."
Bush unleashed his partisan attacks as he opened a four-day Western campaign swing that will take him as far as Hawaii. He spoke at a GOP fund-raiser in conservative Orange County and then flew to Los Angeles to stump for Sen. Pete Wilson in his close race for governor.
Some veteran Hollywood stars turned out to welcome the president, including Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, Mel Torme, Buddy Ebsen and Donald O'Connor.
The president praised Democrats for helping forge a budget deal but then turned around and blamed them for creating the deficit by being on "an uncontrolled spending binge for years."
"It is the United States Congress that must be changed if this country is going to move ahead," Bush said. "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that Congress has been spending more than we take in for far too long."
Seizing on voters' discontent with politicians, Bush endorsed the idea of limitations on the terms of members of Congress. He said it was "one way to correct the abuse of power and the unbridled influence of an entrenched congressional staff. And I say it's an idea whose time has come."
With Election Day 11 days away, Republicans are worried that they will suffer heavier-than-expected political losses. Bush himself has plunged in the polls amid deep Republican divisions over taxes and confusion over the president's stands.
After his California appearances, the president was heading to Hawaii to stump for Senate candidate Rep. Pat Saiki, and meet with leaders of 11 Pacific island nations. En route home Monday, he will make another stop for Wilson in San Francisco.