JACKSONVILLE, Ore. – President Bush (search) and John Kerry (search) continued to crisscross the country Friday, trying to win support from crucial undecided voters in key battleground states (search), where the vote could go either way.
Campaigning in a swing county in Iowa that he lost four years ago, Bush criticized his Democratic challenger on education and jobs Friday, saying the Massachusetts senator fails to understand the connection between the two.
"In the final debate I talked about the vital link between education and jobs; the senator didn't seem to get it," Bush told thousands of supporters in the heart of the biggest media market in Iowa that covers some 30 counties in the eastern part of the state.
Bush said good jobs begin with education and that Kerry "failed to recognize the changing realities of today's world and the need for reform."
Kerry talked about pocketbook issues to voters in Milwaukee, telling hundreds of them that the president's record on jobs and taxes helped special interests, not their interests.
"Right now, we've got an economy where people feel like they're on a treadmill, running faster and faster with each passing year, but they're not getting ahead. They're staying in place, and a whole bunch of folks are even falling behind," Kerry said.
The administration's programs for job retraining and accountability in the nation's schools are elements of the president's campaign agenda, and both have drawn strong criticism from the Kerry campaign, which says they are inadequately funded.
Though Iowa's unemployment rate is 4.5 percent, well below the national rate of 5.4 percent, the state has lost 28,000 jobs since Bush took office, with the Cedar Rapids area losing 10,000.
In 2000, the president lost the county that includes Cedar Rapids by an 8,000-vote margin out of some 90,000 votes cast; he lost the state by less than 5,000 votes.
After his Iowa appearance, Bush was heading to Wisconsin where Kerry spent the day campaigning.
Bush on Thursday night campaigned in Oregon, which he lost in 2000 by less than 7,000 votes.
Click here for Friday's edition of FOXNews.com's daily campaign digest, Trail Tales.
Riding new momentum after three debates that Democrats say their candidate won hands down, Kerry continued to blast the president for being out of touch with the middle class in Wisconsin on Friday. His schedule included rallies in Milwaukee, Sheboygan and Appleton.
"The bottom line is this: This economy has a bad case of the flu and we need a new medicine," Kerry said in Milwaukee.
Cheney said: "What most people want is a good-paying job that will allow them to take care of their families."
Bush has defended his economic record, saying that although he inherited a Clinton-era recession, repeated tax cuts energized growth and helped create 1.78 million new jobs after the economy sustained terrorist attacks, a sustained stock market slide and a slew of corporate scandals.
Cheney, asked Friday during a campaign stop in Berrien Township, Mich., what he and Bush would do to help the working poor, said, "the best solution for poverty is a job" and contended their tax policies would help small businesses create more employment opportunities.
Wisconsin's unemployment rate runs below the national average, and the state's voters haven't seen the severe job losses afflicting other Midwestern battlegrounds. Bush has a slight lead in the state, which Gore won narrowly four years ago.
In an interview with Iowa's The Des Moines Register Friday, Kerry also said there is a "great potential of a draft" to replenish U.S. forces in Iraq if Bush wins a second term.
Bush has said there will be no revival of the military draft under any circumstances if he is re-elected. "We're not going to have a draft, period," the president said during one of the presidential debates.
Bush-Cheney campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said Kerry's statement amounts to "fear mongering" and demonstrates "that he is a candidate willing to do or say anything to score political points."
Meanwhile, a Washington Post tracking poll taken Oct. 11-13 has the two presidential candidates neck and neck, both with 48 percent support. Independent candidate Ralph Nader received 1 percent support. The margin of error was 3 percentage points.
According to the National Annenberg Election Survey released Friday, when asked whom they would trust as commander in chief, people in military service and their families chose Bush over Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran, by almost a 3-to-1 margin.
Bush, who served in the Texas Air National Guard, was more trusted by 69 percent while 24 percent said they trusted Kerry more.
Among all Americans, Bush has a narrower advantage on trust to be commander in chief, 50-41. Four in 10, 43 percent, of the military sample said they were Republicans, while 19 percent said Democrats and 27 percent independents.
FOX News' Steve Centanni, Catherine Loper and The Associated Press contributed to this report.