Americans should do more to protect themselves against terrorism by setting up neighborhood watch groups (search), Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (search) says.

"If we do that to protect ourselves against vandals or a burglary, why would we not do it to protect ourselves against a terrorist?" Kerry asked during a Saturday interview with reporters aboard his campaign train.

Kerry, who was joined on the train by his running mate John Edwards (search), said that the current system of nationwide, color-coded alerts is confusing.

"We need a neighborhood watch kind of system so that we have a way to notify people, they know what they're supposed to do," Edwards said. "We shouldn't have millions of Americans, or hundreds of thousands, trying to figure out at 3 o'clock in the morning what they are supposed to do. They ought to know what they're supposed to do."

Kerry, who was resuming his campaign swing Sunday evening in New Mexico, also said in the Saturday interview that he would continue research on a program to develop weapons to shoot down incoming missiles if he is elected.

"I believe in pursuing and researching and developing missile defense. I've supported missile defense research," Kerry said. But "I don't believe in rapid deployment of a system that hasn't been adequately tested. I will continue missile defense research, I will continue missile defense work, because it's important for the country."

The two Democrats also criticized the Bush environmental record.

"I think they have done a number of things that are troublesome. They have rolled back protections for the quality of our air. They have lowered the standards and the regulatory requirements that have been in place for over 25 years. It's damaging not only to the environment, it's damaging to the health of our kids who have asthma, to seniors who have respiratory problems. I think it's an enormous issue," Edwards said.

Kerry said he would consider putting a Republican in charge if the person was a "thoughtful, balanced person."

"It might be a Republican, it might be a Democrat, I don't know. I'm not looking for an ideology," Kerry said.

"I think that we have a false choice put before voters, that voters are made to believe it's a choice of either the environment or jobs. That's wrong. Protecting the environment is jobs."