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Kerry Talks Steel Jobs, Iraq

Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry (search) told a crowd packed into a block of a small Midwestern town's Main Street on Sunday that he would fight to prevent steel imports from taking American jobs, before winding up the day pitching for support from Michigan auto workers.

"The law is the law, you're supposed to enforce the law," Kerry said in Bowling Green, Ohio, referring to steps the president can take tomping cheaper steel into markets.

"I promise you you're going to have a president and vice president that will fight harder for your jobs than we do for our own," he said.

President Bush imposed steep tariffs on steel imports in March 2002 to ease foreign competition and let the U.S. industry reorganize, but reversed course in December to avoid a a threatened trade war with the European Union (search).

At the same time, the White House retained a system to temporarily monitor imports.

"The president visited Ohio (search), and the president told people in Ohio that the policies that had been put in place are working and they are going to lead to job gains," said Bush spokesman Steve Schmidt.

Bush visited Ohio this week in a Midwest campaign swing that nearly crossed paths with Kerry's caravan of campaign buses on Saturday. Both see Ohio's 20 electoral votes as crucial to winning the election.

Kerry made his remarks during a hot afternoon stop on the third day of a two-week tour through battleground states across the country. The caravan of buses then rolled north into Michigan for an evening baseball game, where Kerry called for the "cars of the future" to be made in America in part of his bid for auto workers' votes.

Kerry also said he plans to use private negotiations to persuade other heads of state to assist in reconstructing Iraq, but he does not envision sending more U.S. troops there.

Kerry said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that a new president can make a "fresh start" with world leaders who opposed the war.

"If we demonstrate an America that has a foreign policy that is smarter, more engaged ... and more respectful of the world, we're going to bring people to our side," Kerry said. "We're not only not going to put additional troops there, that's the way to bring our troops home."

In a separate televised interview, Kerry declined to specify a precise timetable for withdrawing the 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. But he did say, "I would consider it an unsuccessful policy if I hadn't brought significant numbers of troops back within the first term."

Kerry and running mate John Edwards did separate taped interviews with CBS, CNN, ABC and Fox, all of which were broadcast Sunday.

With Edwards sitting by his side, Kerry said on CBS that he is convinced that a Kerry administration could get NATO involved in Iraq. The interview was taped earlier in Greensburg, Pa.

"We can make sure that other countries in the region -- and this is critical -- Iran, Syria, are not interfering with trying to establish a democratic Iraq and bring other countries like France and Germany and Russia to the reconstruction effort so that the Iraq economy can get off the ground and we can get some debt forgiveness," Edwards said.

Kerry said he has a plan to approach other world leaders, "and I'm not negotiating it publicly."

Kerry also defended himself from Bush's charge that the Democrat would raise taxes. Kerry said most Americans would get a tax cut under his plan.

"This administration has had a problem with truth for some period of time," Kerry said. Pressed on whether he is saying Bush lied, Kerry said he would never use that word.

Kerry also said he disagrees with lawmakers from both parties who are questioning the Sept. 11 commission's recommendation to create a Cabinet-level intelligence chief.

"I believe it belongs there and I'm very comfortable with that decision," Kerry said in the CBS interview.

On other topics:

--On ABC's "This Week," Kerry added one exception to his promise not to raise taxes Americans earning under $200,000 a year: "War. Obviously a national emergency." He explained: "I'm talking about a national emergency beyond what we have today in Iraq, if you have something extraordinary that happened."

--"I absolutely guarantee you there will be Republicans in leading and helping" in a Kerry administration, he said on ABC. But he added he hadn't gotten to deciding exactly where and wouldn't promise there would be a Republican among the big four Cabinet posts, Treasury, State, Defense, and Attorney General.