RALLY SPEAKER: Senator John Kerry!
TERENCE SMITH: John Kerry stopped in Albuquerque, New Mexico today, and talked with teachers and parents about the problems afflicting the nation's school systems.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: Teachers in America today are asked to be everything -- psychologists, surrogate parents, family, I mean, and teachers and disciplinarians and so forth. It's an extraordinary burden. So, if we don't empower teachers by giving them enough ability to be able to really work with the kids, we're cheating ourselves, and that is what is happening in our great country today.
TERENCE SMITH: Kerry later took questions from the audience, mostly about education, but also this one from the mother of a soldier serving in Iraq.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: But I want to know, what is going to be the difference as far as the war in Iraq, if we vote you in as opposed to Bush? Because Bush seems to be pro-war at anybody's expense, and a lot of mothers have lost their sons, and I'm not only feeling for mine, but I feel for every mother in here that has a son, because we here at school try to teach our students to work as global, to accept differences and value differences, and when we're going to war out there, we're saying the exact opposite. And so I want to know what the difference is going to be?
SEN. JOHN KERRY: Number one, there is a very big difference as to how I would have behaved in leading America to the war. The president made a promise that he would build an international coalition, exhaust the remedies of the United Nations and go to war as a last resort. To me, those words really mean something. And I think it's an obligation of a president, when you're talking about war and peace, to live up to those promises.
I do not believe President Bush did. I believe he rushed to war without a plan to win the peace, and because of it, American soldiers are now at greater risk than they had to be, and the country is paying far more money in a dearer price all across the world than we had to. Now, that doesn't deal with where we are today, that is a difference.
There is also a very clear difference between us as to what we would do today. You've got to un-Americanize the occupation. You've got to internationalize the decision-making. That means, unlike George Bush, I'm prepared to transfer to an international body, whether it's under the U.N. or a side of the U.N. or approved by the U.N., an international entity that truly brings the world to this effort in order to reduce the reliance on America alone and American soldiers almost alone to bear this burden. That is the only way, in my judgment, to live up to our responsibilities, not just to do what we need to do to have a non-failed state, but to live up to our responsibilities to the soldiers and to the American taxpayer. And that's the way I would proceed.
TERENCE SMITH: This week, Kerry's campaign launched an extraordinary $25 million television advertising blitz.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (campaign ad): We're a country of optimists. We're the can-do people, and we just need to believe in ourselves again.
TERENCE SMITH: Campaign aides say two 60-second ads will air over the next several weeks in the 19 states likely to be most contested in November. The aim, they say, will be to introduce Kerry to voters who may not be that familiar with his career. This ad is primarily biography.
AD NARRATOR: He was born in an Army hospital in Colorado. His father was an Army air corps pilot; his mother, a community leader. He went to college at Yale and volunteered to serve in Vietnam.
MAN IN AD: The decisions that he made saved our lives.
MAN IN AD: When he pulled me out of the river, he risked his life to save mine.
AD NARRATOR: In combat, he earned the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and three purple hearts. Then he came home determined to end that war. For more than 30 years, John Kerry has served America. As a tough prosecutor, he fought for victims' rights. In the Senate, he was a leader in the fight for health care for children. He joined with John McCain to find the truth about POWs and MIAs in Vietnam. He broke with his own party to support a balanced budget, then in the 1990s cast a decisive vote that created 20 million new jobs. A lifetime of service and strength: John Kerry for president.
TERENCE SMITH: The commercials, unusual this early in a presidential campaign, are designed in part to counter a $60 million advertising barrage by President Bush. Those ads, currently airing in the same battleground states, depict Kerry as weak on defense and devoted to higher taxes.
BUSH CAMPAIGN AD: As our troops defend America in the war on terror, they must have what it takes to win. Yet John Kerry has repeatedly opposed weapons vital to winning the war on terror: Bradley fighting vehicles, Patriot missiles, B-2 Stealth bombers, F-18 fighter jets, and more. Kerry even voted against body armor for our troops on the front line of the war on terror. John Kerry's record on national security: Troubling.
TERENCE SMITH: Meanwhile, the president continued his two-day bus tour through Michigan and Ohio. This morning he told a crowd outside Toledo that he and his opponent are far apart on foreign policy.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: My opponent says he approves of bold action in the world, but only if other countries do not object. I believe in forming alliances and coalitions. I understand how important it is to share intelligence. I know how important it is to work together to cut off finances that go to terrorists. I understand how important it is to share the burden of fulfilling our mission, which we have done. There's over -- about 30 countries in Iraq that share the same vision we do. No, I'm for -- all for united action. But I will never turn over America's national security decisions to leaders of other foreign countries.
TERENCE SMITH: For the second day, Mr. Bush did not mention the widely reported abuses of Iraqi detainees by American guards. But he did address the escalating violence on the ground in Iraq.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: There's hard work left to be done in Iraq. And like you, I mourn any time an American soldier loses his or her life. It's an incredibly sad moment for our country. I met with many families, and I've assured them that their loved one will not die in vain, that the mission we're on is an historic opportunity to make this country safer and the world more peaceful. The Iraqi people, of course, are watching very carefully.
See, most Iraqis, of course, want to be free. They want to live in a free society. Moms and dads want to raise their children in peaceful settings so their children can realize their dreams and fulfill their talents. That's what they want, and they're watching carefully the United States. They're watching to see how we react. They're watching to see whether we cut and run or whether we're good for our word. They don't have to worry about me. I don't care what the politics are; I don't care what the pressures are; we will make sure that we fulfill our mission and Iraq is free. Either Iraq will be a camp for tyranny or Iraq will be a model for freedom and democracy.
TERENCE SMITH: President Bush also said America's job picture was improving, and credited his tax cuts for making the difference. Tonight, the president participates in a rally in Cincinnati, while Senator Kerry travels to Los Angeles for events tomorrow.