Diego Union Tribune
July 31, 2004
Bush, Kerry hit the trail
President belittles rival on Senate work, stresses own 'results'
By Paul M. Krawzak
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – President Bush, returning to the campaign trail yesterday after a week dominated by the Democratic National Convention, lashed out at John Kerry's record in the Senate.
"After 19 years in the United States Senate," Bush said, "my opponent has had thousands of votes but very few signature achievements."
The president also unveiled a new slogan – "Results matter" – to underscore what he said were his policy accomplishments and Kerry's lack of any.
During his eight years on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Kerry voted to cut the intelligence budget, Bush said.
The Kerry campaign countered that the Democratic nominee backed increases during the period.
Kerry has "no record of reforming America's intelligence gathering capability" and has "no significant record for reforming education and health care," said Bush, who also accused the Massachusetts senator of favoring bigger government and higher taxes.
President Bush returned to the campaign trail yesterday, shaking hands with supporters during a rally at Grand Rapids Community College in Grand Rapids, Mich.
"In fact," the president added, "he and (running mate Sen. John Edwards) consistently opposed reforms that limit the power of Washington – reforms that would leave more power in the hands of the people."
Bush began a two-day tour of battleground states yesterday, visiting Missouri, Michigan and Ohio. He will continue campaigning in Ohio and then head to Pennsylvania today, nearly crossing paths with Kerry.
Part of an attempt to blunt any polling "bounce" Kerry might get from his convention, the Bush trip kicked off what his campaign describes as a monthlong "Heart and Soul of America Tour," designed to focus on his goals for a second term. The tour name is a subtle dig at Kerry, who had called a roomful of his Hollywood supporters the "heart and soul of America" at a fund-raiser this month.
Although his aides said Bush chose to sleep rather than watch Kerry's speech after accepting the Democratic nomination Thursday night, Bush did tune in to portions of the four-day convention.
"We heard a lot of clever speeches and some big promises," Bush told supporters at a baseball stadium at Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield. He said Kerry has "good intentions, but intentions do not always translate into results."
The crowd of about 7,000 repeatedly interrupted Bush with chants of "Four more years."
Kerry spokesman Phil Singer denounced the president's remarks as a "scurrilous attack."
"Results do matter, and the fact that George Bush's policies have resulted in record deficits, skyrocketing health costs, lower-quality jobs, a military stretched thin and an isolated nation stand in stark contrast to John Kerry's plan to make America stronger at home and more respected in the world," Singer said.
Later in the afternoon, Bush covered similar themes at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan, where supporters packed a gymnasium.
Bush drew thunderous applause and frequent standing ovations at both venues.
Kerry has pledged to wage a smarter and more effective war against terrorism that would bring in allies, while he has accused Bush of a go-it-alone approach.
In response, the president highlighted what he said were his foreign policy achievements, citing Afghanistan and Pakistan as nations that no longer support terrorists. He also singled out Saudi Arabia for praise.
"Before September the 11th, in Saudi Arabia, terrorists were raising money and recruiting and operating with little opposition," he added. "Today the Saudi government has taken the fight to al-Qaeda, and America and the world are safer."
During his acceptance speech, Kerry had alluded to Bush's ties with Saudi Arabia in calling for independence from Middle Eastern oil. "I want an America that relies on its own ingenuity and innovation – not the Saudi royal family," Kerry said.
Bush defended the U.S. invasion of Iraq even though weapons of mass destruction, the key argument for the war, have not been found. He said lawmakers from both parties who reviewed the intelligence saw a threat.
In addition to defending his economic and foreign policy record, Bush asserted Americans are living in a time of "amazing change" that requires creative thinking on the part of government.
"Workers change jobs and careers frequently," the president said. "Most of these jobs are created by small businesses. They can't afford to provide health care or pensions or training.
"We need to make sure government changes with the times and to work for America's working families," he said, adding that Americans need to have their own health care accounts and manage their own retirement and pension systems.
Bush's economic pitch is particularly important in the Great Lakes states where many manufacturing jobs have been lost during his presidency. Polls show him trailing or tied with Kerry in these battleground states.
The president also said that, if granted a second term, he will continue to improve education, the economy, homeland security, and to make health care more affordable and available
"We are turning the corner, and we're not turning back," Bush said repeatedly.
He drew applause when he cited his support for "institutions like marriage and family, which are the foundations of society." Bush supports a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Kerry opposes same-sex marriage, but does not support banning it in the Constitution.
The president also helped raise $3 million at a private fund-raiser at a residence in Kirtland Hills, near Cleveland. The money will be split between Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, who is running for re-election, and the Republican National Committee.