President Bush says Democratic challenger Senator John Kerry does not understand what's needed to win the fight against terrorism. The president campaigned Wednesday in three key Midwest states that could go either way in this election.
President Bush told a Republican rally in Mason City, Iowa that Democrats have shown dangerous thinking in the fight against terrorism. Thinking that Mr. Bush says raises doubts about Senator Kerry's ability to keep the nation safe.
President Bush says there is no place for what he calls Senator Kerry's confusion over fighting terrorism, portraying his democratic opponent's approach as a September-the-10th attitude that Mr. Bush says is no way to protect America.
"This is American's first presidential election since September 11th, 2001. The security of our country is at risk in ways different from any we have before faced," he said. "We're in the midst of a global war against a well-trained, highly-motivated enemy. An enemy who hates America for the very freedoms and values we cherish most. The next commander-in-chief must lead us to victory in this war. And you cannot win a war when you don't believe you are fighting one."
Fighting terrorism is the president's most popular issue with voters - an issue where he's beating Senator Kerry by a margin of nearly two-to-one in the latest CNN/USAToday/Gallup Poll.
At a time when terrorists still threaten America, Mr. Bush says voters in this election have a clear choice about who is best prepared to defend the nation. "The most solemn duty of the American president is to protect the American people. If America shows uncertainty or weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This will not happen on my watch," he said.
Both candidates were campaigning in Iowa with Senator Kerry about 100 kilometers south of Mason City, in the city of Waterloo.
After Iowa, it's Pennsylvania and Ohio for Senator Kerry. And Minnesota and Wisconsin for President Bush.
Public opinion polls show close races in Ohio, Minnesota and Wisconsin, which together account for 27 electoral votes - the same as the state of Florida, which is the single-biggest prize up for grabs.
Mr. Bush lost Iowa by just over 4,000 votes in the 2000 election, and Republicans are campaigning hard to pick up the state this time. The president was leading in Wisconsin in early September, but he now trails Senator Kerry by one point in Wisconsin and two percentage points in Minnesota - both differences that are within the margin of error in the latest statewide polls.