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President Bush and Sen. John Kerry Continue Campaigning in Swing States

August 5, 2004 at 12:00 AM EDT


JIM LEHRER: Now, more words from the U.S. presidential campaign. We hear first from President Bush. He spoke at a town meeting this afternoon in Columbus, Ohio.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Traveling our country. Come to Ohio a lot, by the way. I think you have to ask for the vote, and that’s what I’m here doing.

I want your vote, and I want your help. I told you when I ran we’d reform the schools. We did. I told you when I ran we’d reform Medicare, and we did.

I told you when I ran we’d cut taxes on the working people, and we did. When this administration means something, we mean it and we get it done. Listen, I got time for some questions.

MAN: We want to know what you have planned for our generation to stop violence and increase the goodness —

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I appreciate your saying that, that’s a great question. First, I think we have a duty to go on an education campaign to explain to people that drugs will destroy your life.

In other word in other words, the drug strategy has been interdiction, which is important. In other words, stop them from coming in from Colombia, or wherever they may be coming in from. The way the market works, unfortunately, when there’s demand somebody will figure out a supply.

So we have to get in to people’s minds and heads early in life.

WOMAN: Do you think it affects your decision making process and if so how?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah, first let me talk about faith and politics. It is essential that this country always guard the right for people to worship as they see fit.

It’s essential that people understand if you choose to worship or choose not to worship, you’re equally an American — very important for all our citizens to understand that. That you can worship, or not worship, and you’re equally patriotic.

Now, secondly, if you choose to worship, you’re just as an American if you’re a Jew, Christian, Muslim, or Hindu, that’s what freedom of religion means.

WOMAN: What can we do… what can we do to keep judges who find in favor of relationships between homosexuals?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I believe society is better off by a clear definition of traditional marriage. And the reason I do… (applause)…the reason I do is because, one, traditional marriage between man and a woman has served society and civilization well.

Secondly, there is a firm commitment required in a marriage between a man and a woman that must not be undermined by redefinition.

I appreciate you giving me a chance to come and share some thoughts with you. I have a desire, a deep desire to serve this country for four more years, to make us a safer place, a stronger place and a better place. May God bless you all. Thanks for coming.

JIM LEHRER: President Bush in Columbus, Ohio. Now, John Kerry. He and his running mate John Edwards attended an outdoor rally this afternoon in St. Louis.

SEN. JOHN KERRY: You keep hearing people in politics throw values around and talk about the values. But the fact is that values are not the words that are spoken in the speeches.

Values are the choices that you make in the budget you give to Congress. Values are the choices you, the cause us choose to champion. Values are the people you choose to stand up and fight for. Values, values spoken without actions taken are just slogans. And John and I and all the rest of America are tired of slogans. We know that America can do better.

We can put people back to work. We can make America fair. We can lift up our schools. We can do what we need to do to live up to our promise. And we’re going to make our military stronger. I pledge to you, Missouri, I can fight a more effective, smarter and better war on terror that actually makes America safer in the future. And we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it in a number of ways.

We’re going to double the number of Special Forces so that we have the ability to fight more effectively against terror. But we’re not going to see our troops overstretched and overextended the way they are today. You’ve got guard and national reserve that have been turned into almost active duty today.

You’ve got people who have been deployed for 15 months and more, promised less. You’ve got almost 150,000 of our National Guard who have been called up in reserves almost 40 percent of the troops in Iraq are National Guard and reserves. 90 percent of our active duty army divisions are either in Iraq, preparing to go to Iraq, or just coming back from Iraq.

I pledge to you, we can make America stronger by being smarter, we can do it by living up to our values, bringing other countries to our side. Working with other nations is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength. And we’re going to provide that strength. (Cheers and applause) This is the most important election of our lifetime. And the outcome of this election is far more in your hands than it is in John’s or mine or our families.

We’re going to work our hearts out. But we’re going to work our hearts out with the knowledge that good folks like you understand that we can do better, and if we go out and do the work, knock on the doors, talk to our friends, we can reclaim democracy itself right here in the United States of America.

Our best days are yet to come, let’s go out and get the job done! Thank you and good-bye, god bless, thank you.

JIM LEHRER: John Kerry speaking today at a rally in St. Louis.