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KWAME HOLMAN: President Bush kicked off a day-long bus tour through Wisconsin this morning, stopping first at a rally in Onalaska on the state’s western border. Several polls show Wisconsin is one of the tightest of the battleground states, and the president hammered home the point that electing John Kerry would lead to higher taxes and fewer jobs.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: This campaign offers a clear choice when it comes to the economy and our vision for how to create jobs. My policies support and strengthen the small businesses which are creating most new jobs in America. (Cheers and applause)
I’m going to spend a little time talking about the vision of enhancing the entrepreneurial spirit. My opponent promises to raise your taxes. And unfortunately for our small business owners, that’s a promise most politicians tend to keep. See, I understand if you can create the demand for goods and services and provide incentives for investment, the economy grows. That’s what you got to understand. It’s a difference of opinion. (Applause) It’s a difference of philosophy.
KWAME HOLMAN: At midday, the president’s motorcade rolled on to Richland Center in central Wisconsin. At a rally in a local high school, Mr. Bush highlighted his differences with Sen. Kerry on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We stand for a culture of life in which every person matters and every being counts. (Cheers and applause) We stand for marriage and families, which are the foundations of our society. (Cheers and applause) And we stand for judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the strict interpretation of the law. (Cheers and applause) And on these issues, there is a difference of opinion.
You know, the Congress, in the mid ’90s, voted on what was called the Defense of Marriage Act. It’s an act that defined marriage as between a man or a woman. It received big bipartisan support. Republicans voted for it; Democrats voted for it. President Clinton signed the bill into law. My opponent was one of a few out-of-the-mainstream Democrats that voted against the Defense of Marriage Act. He voted against the ban on the brutal practice of partial-birth abortion. (Cheers and applause)
KWAME HOLMAN: The president’s final stop was Cuba City in southern Wisconsin. The president lost this state by fewer than 6,000 votes four years ago, and so, at each stop today, he made a direct appeal for Democratic votes.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Many Democrats in this country do not recognize their party anymore, and today I want to speak to every one of them. If you believe America should lead with strength and purpose and confidence and resolve, I would be honored to have your support and I’m asking for your vote. ( Cheers and applause )
KWAME HOLMAN: John Kerry also targeted Wisconsin today, but farther north. At a morning rally in Green Bay, Sen. Kerry continued to attack President Bush’s Iraq policy, citing today’s report that the administration soon will request more money for operations there.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: And now this morning, we have learned that the president wants an additional $70 billion of your money early next year for Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing the total cost to date to nearly $225 billion. This is the incredible price of rushing and going it almost alone in Iraq. Mr. President, what else are you being silent about? What else are you keeping from the American people? How much more will the American people have to pay? The American people deserve a commander-in-chief who will tell the truth in good times and bad. (Cheers and applause) This president has failed that fundamental test.
KWAME HOLMAN: Citing recent remarks by Vice President Cheney, Sen. Kerry claimed the administration refuses to acknowledge the mistakes it has made in Iraq.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: Vice President Cheney called the Iraq war a “remarkable success story.” Ladies and gentlemen, they don’t see it, they don’t get it, and they can’t fix it. All George Bush offers America is more of the same. Mr. President, these aren’t accounting errors. These aren’t minor errors of judgment. These are fundamental errors of judgment. Being president is about making the right decisions.
Time and again, this president has made the wrong decisions. Time and again, he has chosen the wrong path. In virtually everything that he has said and everything he has done, the president has demonstrated to the American people and to countries around the world that have been pushed away from the United States that he is divorced from reality in Iraq. And if President Bush can’t fix the problems in Iraq, if he can’t recognize the problems in Iraq, he’s not going to be able to fix them and put us on the right path. I do recognize them, I can fix them, and I will fix them.
KWAME HOLMAN: Late today, the Kerry campaign moved west to Nevada as both candidates continue their focus on tightly- contested states. Tomorrow, the senator travels to Iowa and Minnesota. And the president wrapped up his day early this evening with a rally in Dubuque, Iowa. Tomorrow, he heads to Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.