Could this be the beginning of:"It's the Economy Stupid-Part II, Son of Stupid" Bush Says U.S. Economy in 'Lasting Expansion'WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush, in the midst of an election-year push to bolster sagging poll numbers, said on Saturday the U.S. economy had entered a period of enduring growth. "Our economic recovery is becoming a lasting expansion," Bush said in his prerecorded weekly radio address. He cited recent economic statistics including a rebound in job growth after more than two years of losses, a rise in manufacturing orders and a 6.1 percent U.S. economic growth rate in the second half of 2003. Nevertheless, his remarks followed a jobs-growth report Friday that analysts viewed as disappointingly weak. The report said the U.S. economy had created 112,000 new jobs in January, fewer than expected and well below the 150,000 monthly new-jobs rate economists deem necessary to keep up with growth in the labor force. The January figure came on the heels of a weak December, when 16,000 jobs were added, according to revised figures. In all, 2.2 million jobs have been lost since Bush took office in 2001, giving fodder for candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination to challenge the Republican president in November. Bush vowed in his radio address to pursue "a pro-growth economic agenda, so that every person who wants to work can find a job." Democrats have also sharply criticized Bush's Iraq (news - web sites) policy and the U.S. failure to find banned weapons in Iraq. Recent polls have shown Bush's job approval rating falling below 50 percent and shown him trailing Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites) of Massachusetts, the front-runner for his party's nomination, in a head-to-head matchup. Bush defended his policies on Iraq and the economy in South Carolina on Thursday, two days after that state's presidential primary, which featured numerous attacks on Bush by the Democrats. Bush is to travel on Monday to Missouri, another of last week's primary states and a key battleground in the general election, to discuss the economy. He will meet with economic leaders at the White House on Tuesday. On Sunday, Bush is to appear in a rare hourlong interview on NBC's "Meet the Press." Republicans said the push reflects "high anxiety" in the Bush camp over Democratic attacks and the president's election year situation. In his radio address, Bush plugged his economic proposals which include new job-training initiatives, making tax cuts permanent, and reforming the legal and regulatory systems. "Taking these steps will add momentum to our nation's economic expansion and extend jobs and prosperity to more Americans," he said.