More than 1700 people filled Madison Central High School's gymnasium to see President George W. Bush as he made his first visit to the state since being elected. Bush spoke about Mississippi issues, primarily tort reform.
"The legal industry is growing in this state," said the President. "The fact is, it's hurting doctors and jury awards are out of control."
The President wants the state to act, adopting new laws to end many multi-million dollar jury awards. The state legislature is expected to address the issue this fall.
Bush also said there are steps the federal government can take. "Congress needs to act and establish federal standards for judgments," he said. "250,000 is reasonable."
Meridian city councilwoman Barbara Henson sat on stage with the President. A daycare owner, she represented a small business in
favor of tort reform.
"We started with no insurance and it's just been rising," said Henson. "Everyone is affected by tort reform."
The main point of the President's visit was to raise money and support for Cong. Chip Pickering in his re-election bid against Democrat Cong. Ronnie Shows.
Accompanied by Cong. Pickering, Bush was greeted by Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, a Democrat, and other officials at the airport in Jackson.
The President held a 30-minute private forum on economic issues at Madison Central, that included a laid-off WorldCom employee, before addressing the invitation-only crowd.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.