TERENCE SMITH: Both candidates were in Iowa today, speaking at the same time this morning in cities some 50 miles apart.
The president began his day addressing a crowd of supporters in Mason City, where he touched on many topics, including the war on terror.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: This is America's first presidential election since Sept. 11, 2001. The security of our country is at risk in ways different from any we have before faced.
We are in the midst of a global war against a well-trained, highly motivated enemy, an enemy who hates America for the very freedoms and values we cherish most.
The next commander-in-chief must lead us to victory in this war, and you cannot win a war when you don't believe you're fighting one. (Applause) Sen. Kerry was recently asked how Sept. 11 had changed him. He replied, "it didn't change me much at all."
And this unchanged world-view becomes obvious when he calls the war against terror primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation, rather than what I believe: A war which requires the full use of American power to keep us secure.
TERENCE SMITH: Sen. Kerry, in nearby Waterloo, said the U.S. was fighting dual wars, and he blasted the president for his record on both.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: My fellow Americans, America must fight and win two wars: The war in Iraq and the war on terror. President Bush likes to confuse the two. He claims that Iraq is the centerpiece of the war on terror.
In fact, Iraq was a profound diversion from that war and the battle against the enemy. (Applause) It was a profound diversion from the focus on Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida and the other terrorists that threaten us. But now we are fighting two wars, and we will prevail in both.
TERENCE SMITH: The president again defended his decision to go to war in Iraq and said it was no diversion, citing the violent insurgency led by Abu Musab al- Zarqawi.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Just the other day, Zarqawi publicly announced his sworn allegiance to Osama bin Laden. If Zarqawi and his associates were not busy fighting American forces in Iraq, does Sen. Kerry think he would be leading a productive and peaceful life?
Of course not. And that's why Iraq is no diversion, but a central commitment in the war on terror, a place where our military is confronting and defeating terrorists overseas so we do not have to face them here at home. (Cheers and applause)
TERENCE SMITH: The senator said the president was in denial about the situation on the ground in Iraq.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: My friends, all of these calculations, these weren't just minor miscalculations; these are major misjudgments, misjudgments by stubbornness. You know, the president keeps saying how certain he is about things. But you can't just be always certain and frequently wrong.
It doesn't make sense. (Applause) Make no mistake, our troops are the best-trained, best-led forces in the world, and they have been doing their job honorably and bravely. And the problem... (applause) the problem is the commander-in- chief has not being doing his.
If the president cannot recognize the problems in Iraq, he will not fix them. I do recognize them, and I will fix them. (Applause)
TERENCE SMITH: The president had two more events this afternoon -- one in Rochester, Minnesota, where he talked about the economy, and another in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
The race is tight in those states and in Iowa. Sen. Kerry traveled on to Pennsylvania, another battleground, for a rally in Pittsburgh this evening.