President Bush to visit Nashua

President Bush will make his second trip in two months to New Hampshire next Thursday to tout jobs in Nashua.

Bush’s official visit as the nation’s chief executive will come a few hours before he travels to Boston for a re-election fund-raiser.

“He is coming to New Hampshire to talk about job creating and starting a business,’’ said White House press spokesman Ken Lisaius.

Bush administration officials would not confirm the location in advance of a press-credential advisory that will come out Monday or Tuesday.

But other sources insist Bush will visit Nashua just after noon with a stop at either the New Hampshire Community Technical College on Amherst Street or BAE Systems off Spit Brook Road.

The college will soon become the first in the state to offer a course in microwave studies with support from BAE and Benchmark Electronics Inc. of Hudson, a manufacturing firm spawned from BAE’s predecessor, Sanders Associates.

“We’re very proud of this new job training program that is coming together,’’ said President Lucille Jordan.

Democratic Party communications director Pamela Walsh said Bush’s record on job training is hardly worth bragging about.

“When he talks about job training, President Bush should explain why over the past three years he has proposed at least $1 billion in cuts to job training and vocational education,’’ Walsh said.

“In his 2004 budget he proposed cutting adult job training by $60 million and proposed entirely eliminating youth opportunity grants, which help train young people to enter the work force.’’

Walsh said the taxpayer-paid visit merely helps offset some of the costs of his Boston campaign event.

“This will be a carefully staged photo opportunity,’’ she said.

Democratic nominee-to-be John Kerry has criticized Bush as the worst jobs president in 80 years and the first since Herbert Hoover to preside over a decline in full-time employment with nearly 3 million jobs lost.

Bush supporters claim the employment survey doesn’t tell the most accurate picture because more and more Americans are self-employed and don’t get counted. Based on the household survey, they contend more than 2 million more Americans are working.

The announcement came the same day an independent statewide poll gives the president a slight lead over Kerry.

The American Research Group poll of 463 registered voters from March 15-18 found Bush in front of Kerry, 45 percent to 39 percent. Independent candidate Ralph Nader got 8 percent, and the other 8 percent said they were undecided.

Without Nader in the poll, Bush (47 percent) and Kerry (45 percent) are in a statistical dead heat, as the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percent.

“New Hampshire will remain up for grabs right until Election Day at this rate,’’ said ARG President Dick Bennett.

“On the one hand as the incumbent, it’s never good news if you are under 50 percent. Yet clearly, Nader is not helping Kerry, at least initially in this poll.’’

Bennett said what is encouraging for Kerry is that Democrats are more unified behind him (87 percent) than Republicans (83 percent) are behind Bush.

“This is not what you would expect after a primary, and it’s a testament to how unified the party is. I can see Kerry winning this state, or I could see Bush holding on for it,’’ he said.

“One thing is sure. This will be a long, nasty campaign.’’

Among the pivotal independents in the poll, Bush and Kerry are split, 43 percent apiece with Nader not in the poll. If Nader is in the poll, Bush opens up a 10-point lead, 43 percent to 33 percent, with 10 percent for Nader and the rest undecided.

The Bush campaign already has begun airing television commercials in New Hampshire attacking Kerry’s record on supporting the war against terrorism.

And two liberal, special-interest groups are airing ads in the state critical of Bush’s record on the economy.

On Jan. 28, Bush hosted a roundtable with small-business owners and working family members at Fidelity Investments in Merrimack, the day after Kerry won the first-in-the-nation primary here.

Kevin Landrigan can be reached at 224-8804 or landrigank@telegraph-nh.com.