Bush begins campaign tour of primary states

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GEORGE W BUSH, governor of Texas and the most likely Republican candidate in next year's presidential election, has cleared his desk and is preparing to begin campaigning around the nation.

"I am going to start travelling the country," he said. Emphasising his own brand of "compassionate conservativism", he said he wanted "to make sure that we're prosperous in America, but I want to make sure that prosperity has a purpose".

The Texas legislature finished its session on Monday, delivering ammunition for two of Mr Bush's favourite campaign themes: lower taxes and education. The governor had said he would not campaign outside Texas until the state's business was finished, and yesterday he set out his stall ahead of his first trip to Iowa and New Hampshire, the key states for a presidential contender.

After a protracted fight, the legislature cut taxes by less than Mr Bush had hoped, but still by enough for him to claim it as a victory. And it passed a series of Bills on education, which Mr Bush has put at the top of his agenda. "The clear results ... will be better schools and lower taxes," Mr Bush said yesterday. He also saw a measure passed that would require parents to be notified before minors can have abortions, a key topic for conservatives.

But the legislature failed to approve a scheme for vouchers for private schooling, a hot issue for the Republican right.