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Bush Appears at Ease in Talk Show-Like Appearance

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – President Bush seemed at-ease and in his element Tuesday as he led a 50 minute forum on the USA Patriot Act in Buffalo.

The President doesn't always come across well in public settings. Just last week, Bush appeared uncomfortable at times during his news conference with the national media. But Tuesday, Bush exuded confidence in what was described by the White House as "A Conversation on the U-S-A Patriot Act."

Appearing before a friendly crowd of law enforcement officers and first responders, he engaged in some easy banter with US Attorney Michael Battle.

"They're able to talk about Buffalo Bills football, but they're unable to talk about securing the homeland," Bush said, in making a point of the lack of intelligence sharing prior to the Patriot Act.

"I couldn't have said it better myself," Battle responded, as Bush and the audience shared a laugh.

University at Buffalo Political Scientist James Campbell gave Bush high marks for his presentation.

"It sounded to me like he was very comfortable," Campbell said. "He did a good job of explaining in every day language exactly what the Patriot Act is, how it needs to be augmented and why it's important."

Even though Tuesday's Buffalo forum appeared to be unscripted, Niagara University Communications Professor Jim Wittebols said there's no doubt the President was performing from a well-rehearsed script.

"Very much so. I think he's probably giving the same speech on this tour," Wittebols said. "Of course, he talked a little bit about the Lackawanna Six. With a good briefing, he can throw that stuff in, while having the same cliches to fill in the rest of his remarks."

Wittebols says the President no doubt connected with his base Tuesday. But he says Bush critics probably judged his performance more harshly.