By Carl Weiser
Enquirer Washington Bureau
NEW YORK - Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell made a special introduction Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention when he brought Labor Secretary Elaine Chao to the stage.
"Elaine is the best labor secretary the president could have chosen for these challenging times," McConnell said to delegates, most of whom wouldn't know their relationship. "And I would say that even if she weren't my wife."
Chao told the convention how she came to the United States as a young girl from Taiwan and how her family at first struggled to figure out the English language and American customs.
"Since those early days, faith, hard work and the kindness of new friends carried my family forward - and made it possible for me to become the first Asian-Pacific American woman to serve in the Cabinet of a president of the United States," she said.
Chao also addressed the state of the economy.
"Thanks to President Bush's tax relief, the economy is expanding, creating more than 1.5 million new jobs in the last 11 months," she said. "Today, the national unemployment rate is lower than the average for the 1970s, '80s, and '90s. Yet this president will not rest until every American who wants a job can find one."
Chao introduced Rep. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who tried Wednesday night to show that Bush is the man to fix the economy.
"This president inherited an economy spiraling into recession and already losing jobs in states like Ohio," said Portman, a Terrace Park Republican. "Well, this year, we are adding jobs, including in manufacturing."
"Yes, we have more work to do, but we are on track for economic growth. I visited two factories in Ohio this past week and met with workers who are competing and winning in the global economy."
The two factories Portman cited: Advics Manufacturing in Lebanon and American Micro Products in Batavia, according to Portman's spokesman, Kyle Downey.
Portman, who also serves as communications director for Bush's re-election in Ohio, spoke at 8:40 p.m. at the GOP convention. He opened by giving a thumbs-up to the Ohio delegation.
The Kerry campaign responded that Bush failed Ohio's economy, noting it had lost 230,000 jobs since Bush took office.
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