Monday, October 11, 2004

'Homeboy' Bush stresses Buckeye roots

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First it was Dick Cheney at the Republican National Convention, showing his Buckeye bona fides - revealing that his great-grandfather once lived near Defiance, Ohio, and fought in an Ohio regiment during the Civil War.

Now President Bush is playing up his roots in the state considered one of the most important to his re-election.

"I don't know if you know this or not, but my great-grandfather built a home right here in Columbus, on Roxbury Road," Bush told the National Association of Home Builders in Columbus on Oct. 2. "The home builder they hired did a good job. The house still stands.

"My grandfather was born in this city back in 1895, so I hope a month from now the Ohio voters will send a homeboy back to Washington." Bush also mentioned last month that his other grandfather, Marvin Pierce, had gone to Miami University in Oxford.

Bush's great-grandfather, Samuel Bush, was president of Buckeye Steel Castings Co. from 1905 to 1927 and a founder of the Scioto Country Club. Buckeye Steel is no more - it filed for bankruptcy in 2002 and is now Columbus Steel Castings - but the Scioto Country Club is still going strong.

John Kerry's Ohio roots are shallower. His sister Peggy was born at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where the Democrat's father was stationed in 1941.

"George Bush can talk about his family connections to Ohio all he wants," said Brendon Cull, a Democratic spokesman in Ohio. "But he's obviously forgotten his roots then, because for the last four years he's done absolutely nothing to improve the economy or add jobs in this state."

But does it Swiff? The federal government recently had to ponder this question: What is a Swiffer?

That's Procter & Gamble's "sweeper system" that is, according to its Web page, "revolutionizing the way people clean." Disposable cloths catch dust, dirt and hairs.

But the U.S. Bureau of Customs & Border Protection had to figure out exactly how the Japan-made Swiffer Duster with an extendable handle should be classified - a ruling that would determine how much tariff would be charged. P&G was getting charged an import duty of 5.3 percent on all its Swiffer Duster models imported from Japan.

Robert B. Swierupski, director of the National Commodity Specialist Division, certainly sounded like a Swiffer fan in his ruling.

"The Swiffer Duster is a unique cleaning tool designed to clean both large areas as well as hard-to-reach locations with its fluffy, feather-like fiber duster," he wrote to P&G's Chicago-based lawyer.

P&G managed to get the duty lowered to 2.8 percent. Company spokesman Dave Schottelkotte wouldn't say how much P&G would save.

The tariff amounts to a tax on the consumer, he said. So seeking a reclassification, and a lower duty, is an effort to improve consumer value.

The ruling, he said, was "good news for P&G, and that means good news for our consumers."

Something to ponder: If Bush is re-elected, the 2008 election will be a real rarity. It will be the first election since 1952 without a sitting president or vice president running - the first election that won't in some way be a referendum on the current administration.


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