Returning to the state that dashed his presidential hopes in 2004, Democratic U.S. Sen. John Kerry rallied with college students on Tuesday for next's month elections, urging them to "Take back Ohio, take back our country."

"All of the things that make a difference in the real quality of life are going in the wrong direction," the senator from Massachusetts told about 300 supporters in the rally at Ohio State University.

Kerry, who conceded the 2004 election after he lost Ohio's 20 electoral votes, defended the Democrats Tuesday against accusations by Republicans that it has no ideas, citing plans by Democrats for health care, education, jobs, trade and global warming.

Ohio Democrats hope to gain this fall from a state scandal that has unfolded under Republican leadership that has hurt Gov. Bob Taft and others. Republicans control statewide offices, the House and Senate, and the Ohio Supreme Court.