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Candidates Cross Paths in Key Battleground State

President Bush spoke to supporters at a park on the Mississippi River, while Kerry hosted an indoor economic summit a few blocks away.

At his event Kerry blasted the president’s policies as harmful to ordinary Americans.

“I guess President Bush is just a few blocks from here,” Kerry said. “It occurred to me that he could come here for a great discussion about America’s future if he were just willing to turn the corner.”

During his roundtable discussion of economic issues, Kerry announced that he received the endorsement of 200 business leaders.

Kerry further highlighted Iowa’s loss of some 26,000 manufacturing jobs in Iowa and pledged to deal with the outsourcing of jobs to overseas markets.

The Massachusetts senator also criticized the president over the nation’s growing budget deficit.

“John Edwards and I are committed to putting back in place the fiscal responsibility that is the foundation of economic growth,” Kerry said.

Kerry said that the Bush administration, instead of bringing “compassionate conservatism” to Washington, has polarized the nation’s political system to the point of “the most partisan gridlock I have seen.”

For his part, the president emphasized improvements in the economy and efforts to make the nation stronger and safer.

Mr. Bush pointed to Iowa’s current low 4.3 percent unemployment rate and took credit for opening foreign markets for Iowa products. He also said tax cuts have eased Iowans’ financial burden.

“I have made the success of Iowa farmers and ranchers a priority, and America is better off for it,” the president said.

President Bush argued that his policies had shown positive results while those of his opponent were untested.

“The other folks talk a good game. We deliver,” he said.

The president further pledged to continue the war on terrorism and took a jab at those who have said U.S. military actions and foreign policy have made the world less safe.

“Those who claim that America’s war on terror is to blame for the terror threat against the United States have a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the enemy,” he said.

Though it is not unusual for presidential candidates to visit the same state on the same day, Wednesday’ near simultaneous events within blocks of each other underscored the competitiveness of the election and the importance of battleground states like Iowa.

In 2000, Democratic candidate Al Gore won the state by a little over 4,000 votes or around 1 percent of total ballots cast.

A White House spokesman predicted the candidates might continue to run into one another on the campaign trail.

“I don’t think anyone should be surprised that the two may cross from time to time given that certain states are more competitive than others,” said press secretary Scott McClellan.

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