President Bush, pronouncing Monday he had defied the critics in his first 100 days in office, said, "While I'm pleased with all we've accomplished in these last three months, there's a long road ahead of us."
"We've made a good start these first three months," Bush said in remarks to the American Newspaper Publishers Association, "and there's more to come."In an upbeat review of his administration, Bush reported he was "very pleased with the progress we've made in that short time."
Taking aim at those who have questioned his pace and sense of political direction, Bush insisted he has taken "decisive action" in areas ranging from the beleaguered thrift industry to the budget, attacking those and other urgent problems through "tough, principled negotiations between this administration and Congress."
"I've read more than a few stories, before and after the election, that said the president and the Congress wouldn't be able to work together, that the `bitter campaign' had made cooperation impossible," Bush said. "I didn't believe that then and we're proving it wrong now."
Through painstaking negotiations, Bush has forged bipartisan agreements with Congress to bring the federal deficit below $100 billion next year and continue a flow of humanitarian aid to the Nicaraguan Contra rebels to keep leverage on the Marxist-led Sandinista regime in Managua to implement promised democratic reforms.
On other fronts, Bush has praised Congress for moving forward on his bailout of the savings and loan industry, has sent proposals on ethics and education to Capitol Hill and appears to have avoided a clash over strategic weapons while his foreign policy continues to evolve.
Over the next few days, Bush will make appearances in California, Texas and Florida to call attention to recent legislative proposals on education and child care and set the stage for a major anti-crime and anti-drug package.
The trip, which includes a meeting Wednesday in Los Angeles with former President Reagan, comes as Bush is riding a crest of personal popularity and good will, offset somewhat by uncertainty about his vision of the future.
The intent, White House officials said, will be to build momentum and public support for an administration whose progress to date has been achieved for the most part through a cautious avoidance of controversy or confrontation.