NEW YORK – Delores Ramirez was a supporter of President Bush in 2000, but on this muggy Sunday afternoon the retired Virginia businesswoman was standing on the steps of New York's City Hall with dozens of supporters of Democrat John Kerry (search) who just finished a weeklong tour of five states.
She supported Bush in 2000 because she thought he would help her with her small business, but when asked if she is still a Republican, the 67-year-old Virginia Beach woman grinned and said: "I am a Democrat now, baby."
When her husband got ill several years ago and later died, they had trouble paying for his health care and "We came within three months of losing everything we had."
About six dozen passengers on the "America Can Do Better" bus tour arrived in New York Sunday after traveling through Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania before coming to New York City.
They were greeted on a muggy and sunny afternoon by several New York politicians, including Sen. Chuck Schumer, Rep. Anthony Weiner (search) and Speaker of the New York City Council Gifford Miller.
As the crowd chanted "Kerry, Kerry" and Democratic slogans like "America can do better," Schumer said, "these average people know that George Bush hasn't lived up to what he promised."
Schumer said Bush has not kept his promises on funding education, helping older citizens get affordable prescription drugs and make adequate investments in homeland security.
Miller said New York City has been shortchanged in resources for homeland security — especially for first responders like firefighters and emergency workers.
"His first response was to send the money somewhere else," Miller said. "Those prairie dogs may be cute but they don't deserve more anti-terrorism money than New York City."
"The president has been aggressive in addressing and funding homeland security all across the country," said Republican spokesman Jim Dyke. "The president continues to make sure cities all across the country get the resources they need."
Earlier Sunday, the Democrats' message was dominated by the Clintons. Former President Clinton spoke at Riverside Church in New York — an appearance that was not part of the Democrats' convention war room — and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, talked about the convention during Sunday talk show appearances.
The former president said at the church that conservative Republicans aren't the only side that can talk about religion in politics.
"Politics and political involvement dictated by faith is not the exclusive province of the right wing, Clinton said. "We have a curious situation in America today where the religious right has tried to turn us all, in disagreeing with them, into two-dimensional cartoons."
On NBC's Meet the Press earlier in the day, Sen. Clinton outlined problems she thinks the Bush administration has on the economy, jobs, deficits and federal appointments.
"All of this adds up to a very sobering picture of four years of unaccountable use of power," she said, "based on, unfortunately, a past record of miscalculations, which I don't think we can afford."