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Inside Politics

Bush meets with Cabinet

Lays out administration's second term plans

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George W. Bush
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America Votes 2004

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With re-election behind him, President Bush was meeting Thursday with his Cabinet.

The president planned a news conference following the session at 11:05 a.m. ET. CNN plans live coverage of the event.

Attorney General John Ashcroft could be one of the first Cabinet members to leave the administration.

Sources close to Ashcroft told CNN Thursday that they believe it is most likely the attorney general will submit his resignation in the near future, possibly within the next two weeks.

Bush laid out an agenda for his second term on Wednesday after declaring victory in a speech to jubilant, flag-waving supporters at the Ronald Reagan Building, three blocks from the White House.

Bush said his administration will focus on economic recovery, fixing an outdated tax code, improving Social Security, building on education initiatives and helping the emerging democracies of Iraq and Afghanistan. (President Bush declares victory 'historic')

"I'm proud to lead such an amazing country and I'm proud to lead it forward," he said. "Reaching these goals will require the broad support of Americans."

Bush also called for unity and reached out to supporters of his Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry.

"When we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America," Bush said.

"We have one country, one Constitution and one future that binds us. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support, and I will work to earn it."

Kerry called Bush Wednesday morning to concede defeat after initially holding out hope that uncounted provisional ballots could give him an edge in Ohio, which would have given him the electoral votes needed to win the election.

"We talked about the division in our country and the need, desperate need, for unity. ...Today, I hope we can begin the healing," Kerry said in a speech Wednesday at Boston's Faneuil Hall. (No remorse in Kerry's call for unity)

GOP solidifies majorities

Republicans also added to their majorities in Congress.

In the Senate, they gained four seats, none more significant than that of Democratic Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who was defeated by former U.S. Rep. John Thune. (GOP increases control in Senate)

Other key Republican takeovers were in Louisiana, where Rep. David Vitter was set to become the state's first GOP senator since Reconstruction, and in Florida, where Mel Martinez defeated Betty Castor to take retiring Democratic Sen. Bob Graham's seat.

Democrats had a few bright spots. In Illinois, state Sen. Barack Obama won by a large margin over Republican Alan Keyes. And Democratic Attorney General Ken Salazar won in Colorado over Republican beer magnate Pete Coors.

In the House, Republicans had a net gain of at least four seats, including a pickup of five Democratic seats in Texas, where a redistricting plan pushed by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay redrew the state's map to make it more Republican-friendly. (Republicans build on House majority)

On the Democratic side, Melissa Bean defeated longtime GOP Rep. Phil Crane of Illinois, the Republicans' longest-serving congressman. In Colorado, rancher John Salazar -- the brother of Ken -- defeated orchard owner Greg Walcher in their House race.

In Georgia, attorney John Barrow knocked out incumbent GOP Rep. Max Burns.

Two of the House's 435 seats remained undecided, both in Louisiana, where the final winners will be determined in December runoffs.

CNN's John King, Suzanne Malveaux and Kelly Wallace contributed to this report.

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