WASHINGTON – President Bush said Tuesday his re-election will ensure safety for Americans as well as for those in the rest of the world in the war against terrorism.
"After four years more in this office I want people to look back and say, 'The world is a more peaceful place,"' Bush told supporters at a community college in Iowa. "Four more years and America will be safe and the world will be at peace."
Justifying having gone to war in Iraq, the president said: "You can't just hope for the best. You have to lead."
Bush squeezed in a two-state campaign swing through the Midwest before the political spotlight turns to next week's Democratic National Convention (search) in Boston. His twin daughters accompanied him to Iowa and Missouri.
"It makes the days a little shorter and the trips a lot more fun," Bush said of Barbara and Jenna, who were making their first campaign trip together with their father. The twins will take part in an online chat Friday on Bush's re-election Web site.
"You're probably here thinking I'm going to spend most of the time attacking my opponent," Bush told the crowd. "I've got too much good to talk about."
The president hardly mentioned Democratic rival John Kerry (search) while contending that a second Bush term in the White House would extend the programs of tax relief and education reform enacted in the past four years.
Iowa and Missouri are toss-up states that Bush and Kerry are fighting hard to win this year. Bush narrowly lost Iowa in 2000, but he won Missouri by about 3 percentage points.
Campaign finance reports filed Tuesday by the Bush campaign showed the president had raised nearly $230 million by July and spent about $160 million through June. At least $84 million went to ads, and another $32 million went to mail-related costs. Bush began July with about $64 million in the bank.
Bush was to attend a rally at the Family Arena in the St. Louis suburb of St. Charles on his 19th presidential visit to Missouri. His visit to the Show Me State comes a day after Vice President Dick Cheney's sixth trip to Missouri, where on Monday he told a friendly audience at a lumber company in Columbia, Mo., that the nation's economy is on the rebound.
On Thursday, Bush speaks about homeland security in Glenview, Ill., and attends a GOP fund-raiser in nearby Winnetka.
Aides say the president will stay out of sight at his Crawford, Texas, ranch from Friday evening until the Democratic convention concludes July 29. He's expected back on the campaign trail the day after the convention.
His campaign, however, will send about a dozen people to Boston to rapidly respond to Democratic critics — a "thorn-in-their-side" delegation, as one Bush adviser put it.
"We'll have a strong presence in Boston to respond to all of the charges and the negativity and pessimism that comes out of John Kerry's and John Edwards' campaign," campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel said.
Bush plans to charge back out to the campaign trail on July 30, the day after the Democratic convention ends, heading straight to four battleground states in two days.
Although Bush will be idle during the Democratic convention, Cheney plans a West Coast campaign swing. He will continue headlining re-election rallies and delivering policy speeches contrasting Bush's record with Kerry's, they said, declining to provide details. Cheney also will appear at fund-raisers for Republican congressional candidates.