President Bush, Senator Kerry Campaign in Battleground States
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KWAME HOLMAN: Sen. Kerry began the day in Dover, New Hampshire, where he attacked the president for the decisions he made during and after the war.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: Every step of the way, this administration has miscalculated, miscalculated about how to go to war, miscalculated about the numbers of troops that we would need, miscalculated about sending young Americans to war without the armor they needed, without the humvees they needed that were armored.
KWAME HOLMAN: Sen. Kerry also cited today’s report of the 350 tons of highly explosive material missing in Iraq.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: Terrorists could use this material to kill our troops, our people, blow up airplanes, and level buildings. The incredible incompetence of this president and this administration has put our troops at risk and put this country at greater risk and we ought to be… let me say this let me say this as directly as I can: That the unbelievable blindness, stubbornness, arrogance of this administration to do the basics, has now allowed this president to once again fail the test of being a commander in chief. (Cheers and applause)
KWAME HOLMAN: President Bush did not mention the stolen explosives during his campaign swing through Colorado. Appearing with former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Mr. Bush defended his national security credentials.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: When I saw those images of the fire and death on Sept.11, I made a decision. Our country will not sit back and wait for future attacks we will prevent those attacks by going after the enemy. (Cheers and applause)
My opponent has a different view. (Audience boos) He says that fighting– he says that, fighting terrorists in the Middle East, America has, quote, created terrorists where they did not exist, end quote. (Audience boos ) This is his argument, that terrorists are somehow less dangerous or fewer in number if America avoids provoking them.
KWAME HOLMAN: The president also stressed differences with his opponent on the war in Iraq.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Victory in Iraq is essential to victory in the war on terror. We have a strategy to achieve that victory. The stakes in that country are high. If a terror regime were allowed to reemerge in Iraq, terrorists would again find a home, a source of funding and vital support. They would correctly conclude that free nations do not have the will to defend themselves.
My opponent has a different view. (Boos) The senator calls America’s missions in Iraq a “mistake” — (Boos a “diversion” (boos) — a “colossal error.” ( Boos) And then he says he’s the right man to win the war? ( Audience: “No!”) ( Boos, jeers )
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: You cannot win a war you do not believe in fighting. ( Cheers and applause )
KWAME HOLMAN: As the president was finishing his speech in Colorado, Sen. Kerry was taking the stage in Philadelphia, with former President Clinton leading the way.
It was Mr. Clinton’s first public appearance since undergoing heart surgery seven weeks ago.
BILL CLINTON: If this isn’t good for my heart, I don’t know what is. ( Chuckles ) Thank you.
KWAME HOLMAN: Standing before a downtown crowd of thousands, the former president offered some advice on how to choose the right candidate on Election Day.
BILL CLINTON: If one candidate’s trying to scare you and the other one’s trying to get you to think; if one candidate’s appealing to your fears and the other one’s appealing to your hopes, you better vote for the person who wants you to think and hope. ( Cheers and applause ) that’s the best.
My fellow Americans, we can do better. And in eight days, we’re going to do better with President John Kerry. ( Cheers and applause ) Bring him on!
SEN. JOHN KERRY: Isn’t it great to have Bill Clinton back on the trail? ( Applause ) I asked the president before we came out here. I said, “Mr. President, can you tell me anything that you have in common with George W. Bush?” ( Laughter )
And he thought for a moment and he said, “in eight days and twelve hours, we will both be former presidents.” ( Cheers and applause )
KWAME HOLMAN: Sen. Kerry then turned to the war on terror, again arguing he was the best choice to carry on the fight.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: I will never stop hunting down, capturing or killing the terrorists. Just as I fought for this nation as a young man, I will fight and defend it as president of the United States!
KWAME HOLMAN: This afternoon in Council Bluffs, Iowa, President Bush questioned whether Sen. Kerry knows how to fight terrorism.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: The choice is not only between two candidates, it is between two directions in the conduct of the war on terror.
The American voters must answer these questions. Will America return to the defensive reactive mind-set that sought to manage the dangers to our country?
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Or will we fight a real war with the goal of victory? (Cheers and applause)
KWAME HOLMAN: The president campaigns in Iowa again tomorrow, and in Wisconsin, John Kerry also has events in those states, as well as Nevada and New Mexico.