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Bush urges free trade, tech changes

President Bush warns against erecting barriers to trade with other nations.

President Bush on Monday warned against erecting barriers to trade with other nations, saying that embracing technological change can generate jobs and keep U.S. workers competitive. "Six years ago, the largest export of this state was tobacco," Bush said in a speech in Charlotte, N.C. "And now, it's computer equipment. That's an amazing transformation of an economy."

"For an economy that was based upon tobacco and, to a certain extent, textiles, you're now on the leading edge of technological change," Bush said, adding that the way to extend that lead was to shun protectionist laws and regulations. Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has been much more critical of free trade, saying he wants to change the tax code and enact new laws to encourage U.S. corporations to stop outsourcing jobs overseas.