DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - George W. Bush (news - web sites) took a Texas chainsaw to the English language on Monday night.
In a relapse of the speaking horrors that plagued his primary election campaign, the Republican presidential candidate turned a 16-minute fund-raising speech into a linguistic massacre.
``When we carry Iowa in November, it'll mean the end of four years of Clinton-Gore,'' he said, just warming up -- and evidently ignoring half of the length of the Clinton administration.
Addressing 2,300 Republicans who paid $100 each for a state party fund-raiser, the Texas governor outlined his trade policy in a way that could have given the impression some found the issue terrifying.
``I'm a free-trader. I will work to end terrors -- tariffs and barriers -- everywhere, across the world,'' he said.
In a call for compassion, he emphasized enterprise instead. ''This campaign not only hears the voices of the entrepreneurs and the farmers and the entrepreneurs, we hear the voices of those struggling to get ahead,'' he said.
Usually the crowd got the message and cheered along regardless. But this one, on security policy, had the audience momentarily perplexed: ``We cannot let terrorists and rogue nations hold this nation hostile or hold our allies hostile.''
Bush's speaking fumbles became legend during the primary campaign, when he tramped the snows of Iowa and New Hampshire letting loose bloopers like a pledge to put ``food on the family'' and promising to place revenues in a ``blockbox'' for Social Security.
He has largely gotten that under control now that he is the party's nominee, with only minor slips before Monday. On Friday he denounced Democratic candidate Al Gore (news - web sites) for fomenting ``class warfore.''
And his confidence has remained high. ``We're going to win because the issues are on our side,'' he said on Monday. ``We're talking about issues in a way that the American people can understand.''