Published October 25, 2004
| Associated Press
ALAMOGORDO, N.M. – President Bush (search) is charging Democrat John Kerry (search) with having a limited vision of the war on terror that won't keep America safe, in a campaign speech revamped to call attention to the central argument of his re-election bid.
"There will be new language. There are many different arguments to be made to make the same point," White House communications director Dan Bartlett said of remarks Bush delivers Monday at a rally in Greeley, Colo. The president was headed to Iowa afterward for events in Council Bluffs and Davenport.
The new speech is part of a multi-pronged, final-stretch effort by Bush to hone the defining issues of the campaign and find a way to break the neck-and-neck status of the race.
Monday's focus on the war on terror includes a new television ad that closely tracks the president's remarks. With former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani (search) by his side, Bush accuses Kerry of not having what it takes to prosecute the anti-terror battle.
Then on Tuesday, Bush plans an address on the economy. It's an area where Kerry believes he is stronger, but Bush will contrast what he says is the economy-boosting impact of his tax cuts with a charge, denied by Kerry, that the Massachusetts senator would raise taxes on all Americans if elected. That argument would come as Bush appeared at three rallies in Wisconsin and one back in Iowa.
By Friday, Bush will shift to the topic of leadership qualities "in a very personal way, in a way he hasn't done before," including a recounting of how people he has met with have shaped his views of the war on terror and his presidency, Bartlett said.
The campaign also plans its final ad, to be a rare 60 seconds long and released later in the week, intended to capture the president as likable and trustworthy by including "very emotional" footage of Bush talking in various settings, Bartlett said. That ad — which Bartlett called "our closing pitch to undecided voters" — would not mention Kerry.
With only a few states left on both sides' target lists, a now familiar coincidence of scheduling has Bush and Kerry spending the night in the same state, the president in La Crosse, Wis., and Kerry about 200 miles away in Green Bay. Bush was also coming close to crossing paths with Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards, who was stumping in Racine, Wis., and Dubuque, Iowa, on Monday.
Republican-leaning Colorado, where Bush was starting his day, has moved in recent weeks from the fringes of the campaign to dead center — and then perhaps back toward the sidelines.
Bush won Colorado big in 2000, by 51 percent to Al Gore's 42 percent. But a weak economy, the state's growing Hispanic population and a competitive Senate race gave Kerry reason to give it another look, and he began last month targeting the state as one of a handful he hoped to steal from the Bush column.
Now, though, there are signs the Democrats are giving up — even though Kerry was just in Colorado on Saturday — as strategists canceled plans for the senator to visit the state again this week and were pulling its TV ads there. The latest polls show Bush with a slight lead.
Bush, however, wasn't leaving anything to chance and left his Colorado stop on his schedule.
Iowa, meanwhile, remains heavily in play as one of nine tossup states.