Bush appeals to Democratic voters; Kerry says Republican ‘doesn’t get it’
Associated Press Writers
LITITZ, Pa. (AP) – President Bush summoned support from Democrats whose “dreams and goals are not found in the far left wing” of their own party on Wednesday in a late-campaign appeal for crossover votes. Democratic Sen. John Kerry said that when it comes to Iraq, the man in the White House “doesn’t get it, and he can’t fix it.”
Bush has made a habit of “dodging and bobbing and weaving” when it comes to tons of missing explosives outside Baghdad, added the four-term Massachusetts senator, and Vice President Dick Cheney “is becoming the Chief Minister of Disinformation.”
The president accused his rival of “wild charges” unbecoming a man with ambitions for the Oval Office.
Six days before the election, the president and his Democratic challenger appeared before large late-October crowds as their aides and outside groups made strategic adjustments for the campaign’s end-game.
Bush’s high command put extra money into television commercials in Portland, Maine – a bid to claim victory in next-door New Hampshire, where recent polls show Kerry the narrow leader. The challenger as well as groups supporting him stepped up efforts in Hawaii, customarily a safe Democratic state, but too close for Kerry’s comfort in recent surveys.
With polls reporting a high level of interest in the race for the White House, an Associated Press-Ipsos survey showed 11 percent of voters had already marked ballots in 32 states that permit early voting, and another 11 percent said they intended to do so.
“Lots of folks have made up their minds, and they figure that if they send in their ballots, the campaigns will stop pestering them,” said Snohomish County Auditor Bob Terwilliger in Washington.
Yet there were problems as millions tried to beat the Election Day rush, and thousands of lawyers were primed to catch them. Officials in Florida’s Broward County said up to 58,000 absentee ballots may not have reached voters who requested them more than two weeks ago.
The presidential race aside, 34 Senate races and 435 House contests dot the ballot on Nov. 2, and candidates and parties alike strained for a late advantage. Republicans, heavily favored to retain their majority in the House, sought late upsets in races for Democratic seats in Missouri and California.
Yet GOP strategists also fretted over Sen. Jim Bunning’s recent dive in the polls in Kentucky and minority Democrats rooted for an upset. “We have a horse race in horse country,” crowed Sen. Jon Corzine of New Jersey, head of the party’s senatorial campaign committee.
The polls made the presidential race out to be impossibly close as Bush and Kerry campaigned before large crowds in battleground states that will settle the election.
Bush’s first stop of the day was beside a small, wind-swept airfield in Lititz, Pa., where the late-October breeze bore the scent of cow manure from nearby farms.
In remarks repeated nearly word for word later in the day in Ohio, Bush devoted about a quarter of his speech to an appeal to Democrats – although he acknowledged “they are not going to agree with me on every issue.”
He invoked the names of Democrats Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John Kennedy by way of accusing Kerry of “taking a narrow, defensive view of the war on terror,” then summoned memories of Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey to accuse his rival of shortchanging public education. Bill Clinton, he added, signed legislation that Kerry opposed to define marriage as solely between a man and a woman.
Bush also mentioned the “moral clarity” of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a New York Democrat who supported legislation to ban so-called partial birth abortions – a bill Kerry has consistently opposed.
“Many Democrats look at my opponent and see an attitude that is much more extreme,” added the president. “If you’re a Democrat, and your dreams and goals are not found in the far left wing of the Democrat party. I’d be honored to have your vote.”
Not if Kerry could help it – and Bush’s appeal was too much for Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg. “All of us who revere the strength and resolve of President Kennedy will be supporting John Kerry on Election Day,” the daughter of the assassinated president said in a statement.
For the third consecutive day, Kerry assailed Bush over the disappearance of nearly 400 tons of explosives in Iraq.
“The missing explosives could very likely be in the hands of terrorists and insurgents, who are actually attacking our forces now 80 times a day on average,” the Democrat said in Iowa, a state with seven electoral votes where polls show him and Bush in a tight race.
“What we’re seeing is a White House that is dodging and bobbing and weaving in their usual efforts to avoid responsibility, just as they’ve done every step of the way in our involvement in Iraq,” Kerry said.
Like Bush, Kerry mentioned past presidents to put his rival in an unfavorable light.
“I will never give any other nation or organization a veto over our national security. But I will never forget what Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Reagan all knew – that America is stronger, our troops are safer, and success is more certain when we build and lead strong alliances, not when we go it alone,” he said.
Kerry also said Bush had sold out the middle class in favor of helping the wealthy, and added he wants “four more years so that he can keep up the bad work.”
Associated Press Writers David Espo in Washington and Nedra Pickler in Sioux City, Iowa, contributed to this report.
On the Net: