Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry (search) accused President Bush on Sunday of sitting idly over the last two and a half years while intelligence community reforms went nowhere.
Kerry, who appeared on FOX News Sunday, told anchor Chris Wallace that he and running mate John Edwards (search) have been talking about having one chief of intelligence for more than a year. He said Bush has been reactive rather than proactive in his approach to the needed security changes.
"What America wants is leadership that's ahead of the curve, that doesn't have to be told by an independent commission, which they, incidentally, fought to prevent," Kerry said.
"We need somebody who's in charge of this entire intelligence operation," Edwards added. "We need one human being who's responsible for making sure all that information is shared, and one person who can report directly to the president about it."
The commission formed to investigate failures to stop the Sept. 11, 2001 (search), terror attacks released a report last month that called for a major overhaul of U.S. intelligence, including establishing a director of national intelligence, a Cabinet position that would be responsible for coordinating information collected from more than a dozen intelligence units.
The White House has developed a working group to examine the recommendations. Bush was at the White House Sunday after a two-day campaign tour to five battleground states. He attended church in the morning but refused to take questions from reporters. Aides said he could announce as early as Monday his response to the recommendations.
Kerry's attack on the president is the continuation of a weeklong rally that started with the Democratic convention last Monday. Democrats have been hammering home the idea that the Vietnam veteran and senator from Massachusetts would be better not only on overhauling intelligence, but on securing Iraq as well as the homeland.
The message appears to have resonated with some voters. A Newsweek magazine poll taken on Thursday and Friday shows the Kerry-Edwards ticket has advanced its lead over Bush and Vice President Cheney 52-44 percent in a two-way race with a three-point margin of error. In a three-way race including independent running mates Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo, Kerry-Edwards lead 49 to 42 percent over Bush-Cheney with Nader and Camejo earning 3 percent. However, the poll does not say how many of the 1,190 respondents surveyed are Democrat, Republican or independent.
On Sunday, Kerry told FNS that he could increase international cooperation in Iraq (search), but he refused to give any details on how he would make that arrangement.
"Of course, I'm not going to negotiate, publicly, the hand that I have as president before I'm president. I've been around too long, and I know how to do this. I've negotiated with other countries; I've worked on these issues through the years. I'm telling you that the climate can change dramatically. Leaders in other countries know this," he said.
Edwards added that the effort in Iraq needs "a fresh start" and he would want Kerry to go to NATO (search) and bring the North Atlantic security group into the effort.
"I'm convinced that can be done," Edwards said.
While on FNS, Kerry also criticized the administration for its handling of domestic security.
The president has "dropped the ball on homeland security (search)," Kerry said.
"We've been talking about changes we need to do for port security — 95 percent of our containers are still not inspected. Nuclear and chemical plants in America still don't have the kind of protection they need. We have training and preparation with respect to disasters that hasn't been done," said the Democratic candidate.
Kerry and Edwards campaigned in Ohio on Sunday on the third day of the 15-day, 21-state, 3,500-mile "Believe in America" tour. Ohio, with its 20 electoral votes, is a critical battleground state that Bush won in 2000 over former Vice President Gore by 3.6 percentage points.
No Republican has captured the White House without carrying Ohio. Since 2000, Ohio has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs, and parts of the state have an unemployment rate considerably higher than the 5.6 percent national rate.
Still, Bush struck a positive tone in Ohio, which he was visiting for the 19th time during his presidency.
"After four more years, there will be better paying jobs in America. After four more years, there will be more small businesses. After four more years, the American economy will continue to be the strongest in the world," the president said.
On a second day of campaigning in the Midwest on Saturday, Bush traveled on a seven-bus motorcade — a caravan called "the Heart and Soul Moving America Forward" tour — that rolled south out of Cleveland and ended in Pennsylvania.
While Bush laid low on Sunday, his campaign said it is starting an intensive campaign to lay out the president's vision for his second term.
At a Saturday evening rally at a convention center in Pittsburgh, Bush asked: "Why, why why should the American people give me the great privilege of serving four more years? We've accomplished a great deal. ... We have so much more to do to move this country forward."
On Tuesday, the president will return to the campaign trail with events planned in Texas, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan and New Hampshire before the week's end.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.