George W. Bush: 2000 Election & Domestic Agenda

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  • 0:01 Republican Primary
  • 1:04 2000 Presidential Election
  • 3:10 Bush's Domestic Agenda
  • 5:12 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adam Richards

Adam has a master's degree in history.

President George W. Bush overcame numerous obstacles before and after entering office. Learn about the Republican Primary Election, the presidential election of 2000 and Bush's domestic goals.

Republican Primary

President George W. Bush's quest for the White House began in earnest in 1999. While Bush had political roots as governor of Texas, he was a relative newcomer to national politics. Despite his novice standing, Bush collected a tremendous amount of money from fundraising and support from the Republican Party. In fact, Bush had raised nearly $70 million in 1999 alone. He also had the full support of 37 Republican senators. His closest competitor, Arizona Senator John McCain, paled in comparison. However, McCain engaged Bush in a competitive battle for the Republican nomination.

Bush and McCain entrenched themselves in New Hampshire and South Carolina and sparred over the two states. McCain successfully defeated Bush in New Hampshire, but Bush avenged the loss by securing South Carolina. Bush's deep pockets and political connections overwhelmed McCain, and the senator conceded to Bush at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in 2000. He became the Republican Party's nomination for president of the United States and pledged to establish an administration that worked for all Americans.

2000 Presidential Election

In the wake of the President William 'Bill' J. Clinton era, the Democratic Party chose Vice President Albert 'Al' Gore as its presidential nomination. The presidential election of 2000 witnessed a heated battle with both men running negative advertisements aimed at one another. Gore, following the advice of his campaign strategy team, upped the ante and chose to attack Bush on a personal level, citing his general incompetence and lack of national political expertise. As you will see, this decision eventually yielded negative repercussions.

Three important debates occurred in Massachusetts, North Carolina and Missouri, with each candidate earning political points within their respective area of expertise. For instance, Bush contained a firm understanding of domestic concerns, while Gore was a foreign policy sage. Gore entered the presidential debates leading Bush by a solid margin. Yet, with America familiarizing itself with Bush's policies, coupled with Gore's degrading comments, Bush managed to erase the deficit and pull even.

On November 7, 2000, Americans cast their votes in what became a highly controversial count. Gore believed, even after defeating Bush in the popular vote 48.4% to 47.9%, that he had lost the election based on the results of the Electoral College. He initially conceded to Bush but rescinded after learning that the returns in Florida were virtually deadlocked. Gore called for a prompt recount in Florida, allowable under state law, where a narrow swing in votes could have led to his victory in the Electoral College.

The manual recount still favored Bush by the narrowest of margins, but Gore petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to allow more time for additional ballots to be reported. The court ruled in favor of Gore 4-3 and announced an extension. Bush, however, challenged the United States Supreme Court to intervene in the matter. In the case of Bush v. Gore (2000), the Supreme Court narrowly ruled, by a decision of 5-4, that the Florida Supreme Court's recount order was a direct violation of the equal protection clause under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The election was certified on December 12, 2000, and Bush was declared the winner with a final electoral count of 271 to 266.

Bush's Domestic Agenda

Upon entering office in January 2001, Bush had prioritized two important domestic goals: tax reduction and education reform. The United States was mired in an economic recession, which Bush hoped to break by utilizing tax cuts. During his first week in office, Bush announced an economic package that would cut taxes by $1.6 trillion over a 10-year period. Democrats countered with a $900 billion tax reduction package, but Bush remained adamant on cutting over $1 trillion in taxes.

He campaigned nationally for his tax program, and, eventually, both Democrats and Bush compromised on a package of $1.3 trillion in tax cuts over 10 years. Also included in the legislation were new exemptions for Americans, including a child credit, a reduced bracket for the impoverished, an end to the inheritance tax and lower wealth and corporate tax rates. Bush also authorized the immediate dispersal of rebate checks in the form of $300 and $600 allotments, which he argued belonged to the American people, not the government. Bush signed the legislation on June 7, 2001.

Bush also tackled education reform. He believed that the system in place prior to his arrival in office failed to hold academic institutions accountable for poor scholastic standards and low achievement among students, especially minorities. Bush introduced the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. The polarizing legislation called for a higher level of responsibility of academic institutions to enhance the learning and retention of its student cohort. The Act created federal testing that all grade schools were mandated to administer.

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