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August 09, 2001
Poll: Bush's Vacation is Too Long
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t Americans (55 percent) believe President Bush shouldn't be taking a 30-day working vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, according to a new poll by USA Today, CNN, and Gallup.

The majority of those polled believe 30 days is too long away from the White House. Bush aides, however, say it's not a full-fledged vacation, but a working one.

"The president is enjoying being back home," spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters Monday morning. "He plans to work as well as take a little bit of time off."

McClellan said repeatedly that Bush will speak out about values and focus on issues such as education, character development in young people, and community efforts to help the less fortunate.

According to USA Today, Bush advisers are sensitive to the perception that he doesn't work as hard as some of his predecessors.

If Bush returns as scheduled on Labor Day, he'll tie a modern record for presidential absence from the White House - held by Richard Nixon at 30 days.

If Bush returns as scheduled on Labor Day, he'll tie a modern record for presidential absence from the White House - held by Richard Nixon at 30 days. Ronald Reagan took trips as long as 28 days.

Over the course of the month, Bush will leave Texas for several one and two-day trips as part of what aides are calling his "Home to the Heartland Tour." The events are designed to show Bush's compassionate side. Although his approval ratings remain relatively high in opinion polls, aides are concerned that Americans might believe Bush doesn't care about the issues that affect them and is beholden to corporate interests.

Aides attribute that perception, in part, to the president's sometimes awkward public performances, so they are planning appearances that won't have him reading a speech behind a lectern. Among the events scheduled before Bush heads back to Washington on Labor Day: a session with families in Estes Park, Colo.; a back-to-school event in Albuquerque; a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Milwaukee and one to the American Legion convention in San Antonio; and a stop at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

The events will take place in ''a lot more informal settings,'' McClellan said, ''where he can discuss issues that are important to the American people.''

McClellan said Bush believes it is important to ''get outside of Washington, D.C., where those values are not easily recognizable.''

Admittedly, the president will spend some time relaxing. Monday morning, before the mercury rose over 100 degrees, Bush went for a four-mile jog. He then got his daily intelligence briefings and spoke by phone to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and chief of staff Andy Card.

In the afternoon, Bush headed out into the wilting heat to work on a nature trail he is building in a canyon. During his stay, Bush also plans to entertain visiting family and friends and will probably man the barbecue, grilling up his specialty: hamburgers.

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