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Bush, Kerry Campaign in Ohio, Pennsylvania - 2004-07-31

President Bush and his Democratic opponent, Senator John Kerry, took their campaigns into Ohio and Pennsylvania Saturday, two critical states in the November election.

The president focused on Ohio, a key state in his re-election strategy, and one that has been hit hard by job losses over the past few years.

Mr. Bush said his tax cuts are now creating new jobs and that a victory in November would ensure the U.S. economy remains the strongest in the world.

The president also spoke about the war on terror, which opinion polls indicate is a strong point for him with voters. "If America shows uncertainty and weakness in this decade, the world will drift towards tragedy," he said. "This will not happen on my watch."

Mr. Bush also went after his opponent, Senator John Kerry and his running mate, Senator John Edwards, for voting against an $87 billion funding bill last year to support U.S. troops in Iraq.

"Now, he is offering different explanations. At one time, he said that he was proud that he and his running mate voted against the funding for the troops," said Mr. Bush. "and then he said the whole thing is a complicated matter. There is nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat!"

Not far away, the Kerry campaign made a swing through Pennsylvania, considered a must-win state for the Democratic ticket in November.

Senator Kerry took issue with the president's upbeat assessment of the economy. He also criticized the administration for what he believes is a unilateral approach to foreign policy.

"And that means you have got to work with other people," said Mr. Kerry. "You need the best cooperation in the world, not the worst, and when I am president, we will respect the fact that working with other countries is a sign of strength, not weakness."

Senator Edwards, Mr. Kerry's running mate, also responded to the president's criticisms, saying Democrats are determined to keep their campaign positive in the weeks ahead. "We know what is coming in the weeks ahead, don't we? More negative attacks," he told the crowd. "Aren't you sick of it? Well, this is where you come in, because you, the American people, you can reject this tired, old hateful negative politics of the past, and, instead, embrace the politics of hope, the politics of what is possible. Because this is America, where everything is still possible."

The Kerry-Edwards campaign is in the early stages of a two-week, 21-state tour that will take the candidates to a number of crucial battleground states for the November election.

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney also have a busy campaign schedule in the weeks leading up to the Republican National Convention in New York City in late August.