Published October 25, 2004
John Kerry (search) was getting some star power in four battleground states Monday, while President Bush (search) prepared to deliver a new speech aimed at getting an edge on the neck-and-neck race for the White House.
Former President Bill Clinton, who is still recovering from heart surgery, will join Kerry at a rally in Philadelphia on Monday, then travel to Florida in the evening. The Kerry camp hopes Clinton will help increase voter turnout in the crucial state of Pennsylvania.
In an interview with ABC News on Sunday, Clinton dismissed concerns that his decision to campaign is risky to his health, saying, "I want to do this."
Former Vice President Al Gore (search) is also stumping for Kerry in Florida, the epicenter of the 2000 recount battle that lost Gore the presidency. Gore is making a two-day swing through the Sunshine State on behalf of Kerry and will be targeting minority voters, urging them not to allow a repeat of 2000.
Kerry on Monday challenged Bush's execution of the War on Terror and the GOP administration's policies toward Iraq. In Dover, N.H., Kerry talked about the discovery that tons of explosives were missing from an Iraqi military base and described it as "one of the great blunders" of the war.
"Terrorists could use this material to kill our troops, our people, blow up airplanes and level buildings," Kerry said. "The unbelievable blindness, stubbornness, arrogance of this administration to do the basics have now allowed this president to once again fail the test of being the commander in chief," Kerry said.
On Sunday, while stepping up his outreach to the black community by attending services at black churches, Kerry pounced on a statement the president made about the War on Terror during a recent interview with FOX News' Sean Hannity.
"Now there's a whole new interview and the president says in this interview, 'whether or not we can be fully safe looking out the future is up in the air,'" Kerry said. "Well, let me tell you something, ladies and gentlemen, you make me president of the United States, we're going to win the War on Terror. It's not going to be up in the air whether or not we make America safe."
Bush told Hannity that the nation was in "much better" shape than it was following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Plus, he said the independent commission that investigated the attacks said the nation was safer because of the steps the Bush administration took, "but not yet safe."
"Whether or not we can be ever fully safe is up, you know, is up in the air," Bush said.
Watch Hannity's interview with Bush on the FOX News Channel at 9 p.m. EDT.
White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett said Bush would be using some new language in his speeches during the final weeks of campaigning, beginning Monday with a rally in Greeley, Colo. The president was headed to Iowa afterward for events in Council Bluffs and Davenport.
Bush is getting help on the campaign trail from the man known as "America's mayor" — Rudy Giuliani (search). The former mayor of New York was planning to stump for the president in the battleground state of Colorado.
Monday's focus on the War on Terror includes a new television ad that closely tracks the president's remarks. With Giuliani by his side, Bush accuses Kerry of not having what it takes to fight the anti-terror battle.
"If America shows uncertainty or weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy ... this will not happen on my watch," Bush said during a campaign stop in New Mexico over the weekend.
Then on Tuesday, Bush plans an address on the economy. It's an area where Kerry believes he is stronger, but Bush plans to 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 is expected at Bush appearances at three rallies in Wisconsin and one 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.
Surrogates on the Battleground Stump
Clinton said he talked to his doctors about campaigning for Kerry and "they made some very helpful suggestions."
"They said, you know, I should get wherever I'm going early in case I'm tired, so I can kind of regenerate," he said.
Clinton said his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (search), D-N.Y., was not worried that it was too soon for him to campaign but "didn't want me to do too much, and I don't either," according to a transcript of an interview, which aired Monday on "Good Morning America."
"I think you know there's only so much anyone else can do in a campaign that he or she is not the candidate in," Clinton said. "But I want to do this. Sen. Kerry asked me to do it and I want to do it."
Clinton, 58, has been recovering at his home in Chappaqua, N.Y., after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery in New York City on Sept. 6.
Also, later this week, Bush will be joined in Ohio by Giuliani and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (search). The Bush camp has retreated in some states, such as Maine and New Hampshire; aides said it's in part because they're sure of a Bush win there.
"The president still has strong campaigns in the battleground states … we're no longer working as hard in the traditional Bush states," Bush-Cheney campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Millerwise told FOX News on Monday, adding that he will still campaign strong in Ohio and Democratic strongholds like Michigan and Iowa. "And that's because John Kerry has a record that does not match the Democrats' records in those states," Millerwise said.
Kerry campaign senior adviser Debra Deshong said it's surprising Bush has nearly pulled out of some states already.
"John Kerry's going to be campaigning in places like Ohio and Florida … we're going to be appealing to a wide variety of undecided voters — people are still tuning into this race — people are pretty busy," Deshong said, adding that her candidate will hammer away at Bush on issues such as homeland security and various "catastrophic mistakes" made by the administration.
Millerwise also took a shot at Kerry's reputation for being a "flip-flopper" on various issues — a reputation the GOP has been pouncing on, trying to prove Kerry won't be able to stand strong if elected to the White House.
"There is not a weathervane on the White House and John Kerry can't step outside to see which way the wind is blowing that day," Millerwise said.
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.
FOX News' Liza Porteus, Kelly Wright and The Associated Press contributed to this report.