Published July 31, 2004
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – President Bush (search) attacked John Kerry's 19-year record in the Senate on Friday, answering the Democratic convention mantra "America can do better" with a new GOP refrain of his own: "Results matter."
Bush repeated the slogan to crowds here and in Springfield, Mo., the first two stops on a swing through four key election states. He also is campaigning in Ohio and Pennsylvania, wrapping up his latest tour with a rally Saturday in Pittsburgh, just hours after Sen. John Kerry (search) speaks in a nearby suburb.
"After 19 years in the U.S. Senate, my opponent has had thousands of votes, but few signature achievements," Bush told supporters who waved large blue and red "Ws" for the president's middle initial.
"During eight years on the Senate intelligence committee, he voted to cut the intelligence budget, yet he had no record of reforming America's intelligence capability," said Bush, whose advisers are combing the Sept. 11 commission's (search) recommendations to revamp the nation's intelligence-gathering ability.
"He's had no significant record for reforming education or health care," Bush continued. "In fact, he and his running mate consistently opposed reforms that limit the power of Washington — reforms that would leave more power in the hands of the people."
Bush, who continued to portray the Massachusetts Democrat as a tax-and-spend liberal, is seeking to limit Kerry's post-convention bounce to a dribble. Bush summed up the Democratic convention in Boston as four days of "clever speeches" and "some big promises."
Kerry, who left the convention on a two-week cross-country trip by bus, train, boat and plane, defended his record during an interview with The Associated Press in New York state.
"Look, I'm running a positive campaign for the country and I'll stand on my 19-year record — pages of legislation and long lists ranging from 100,000 cops on the street to health care for children to agent orange legislation to fisheries.
"I mean, it's a long list. I'm not going to quibble about that. They don't have a record to run on, so all they can do is attack. They're running away from their own record."
Bush is calling his latest campaign drive the "Heart and Soul of America" tour, a subtle jab at Kerry, who at a Democratic fund-raiser called some of his Hollywood friends the "heart and soul" of America. He sprinkled throughout his speeches another new campaign slogan: "We're turning the corner and we're not turning back."
During the next two weeks, Bush will talk about helping Americans adjust to a changing economy, increasing home ownership, overhauling Social Security and letting workers opt for time off as compensation, rather than overtime pay — an issue that has riled unions, Democrats and some moderate Republicans.
The Kerry-Edwards campaign accused the president of addressing middle class concerns just three months before the election.
"Bush is finally talking about how to address the increasing stress families face each day trying to balance their responsibilities as parents in the face of massive job loss, stagnant wages, and the rising costs of life in Bush's America such as health care and education," Kerry spokesman Phil Singer said. "After nearly four years of making things harder for American families on these key issues, Bush's rhetoric might be changing: why should we believe him now?"
Bush's remarks on the economy focused on his efforts to better educate and train tomorrow's work force. He didn't mention the White House's projecting on Friday that this year's deficit will hit a record $445 billion, further fueling a debate over the president's handling of the economy.
The president's new stump speech the crowd inside the stadium in Springfield to give him several standing ovations. Outside the stadium, however, more than 100 demonstrators protested the president's 20th visit to Missouri.
Protester Steve Morrow blamed the Bush administration for the loss of his $18-an-hour job at steel plant in Kansas City, Mo. After 31 years, he was forced to retrain for a position in heating and cooling.
"I used to make a decent living, but when my plant shut down, I had to take a job that paid only $8 an hour," Morrow said.