COLUMBUS, Oct. 2, 2004 (Hanley Wood News Service) - President Bush, speaking at the NAHB Fall Board meeting here, described America as becoming a stronger country every time a family buys a home.

Bush cited homeownership rates approaching 70 percent, and defended the importance of the mortgage interest deduction, in a speech that many observers called the best housing speech by any president in 30 years.

"What a great job you have," Bush said. "To build a house and have the new owners walk through it and say to their children 'This is your room,' and (to have children) say to their parents, 'This is my home.' It must be satisfying to help people achieve the American dream of homeownership."

The president reminded builders of his 2002 goal to add 5.5 million minority homeowners by 2012, and stated that in the two years since then, nearly 2 million minority families have become homeowners.

He said his administration is seeking additional ways to bridge the affordability gap that prevents people from buying a home because they do not have enough for a traditional downpayment. He also spoke of removing conflicting and overlapping regulations that make it harder for builders to build.

Bush mingled with audience members for 20 minutes after the speech before boarding the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign bus for two other Saturday campaign stops in Ohio.

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