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US Presidential Campaign Continues at Fast Pace - 2004-08-10


Traditionally, U.S. presidential campaigns hit a bit of a lull in August when many Americans are enjoying the final weeks of summer. But the current race is extremely tight and both candidates are campaigning like Election Day is just weeks away instead of months. Both candidates are criss-crossing the country, focusing on key states that could determine the election outcome.

President Bush gave up his jumbo jet for a bus Tuesday as he led a campaign caravan through the crucial state of Florida. His focus on the day-long drive was an area called the western panhandle which is home to many military families and veterans.

"Everywhere we are going, the crowds are big, the enthusiasm is high and with your help, Dick Cheney and I will be able to serve this country for four more years," he said.

In Pensacola, Mr. Bush spoke at a rally in a packed sports arena. He used the occasion to once again bring up Senator Kerry's stand on the war in Iraq.

The Democratic presidential nominee originally voted to give the president the authority to take military action, though he later became a critic of the war. On Monday, Senator Kerry said he would still approve the authorization for war even though no weapons of mass destruction have been found. President Bush made clear he saw the comments as political vindication.

"And now, almost two years after he voted for the war in Iraq and almost 220 days after switching positions to become the anti-war candidate, my opponent has found a new nuance," he said. "He now agrees it was the right decision to go into Iraq."

The Kerry campaign put out a quick response saying the president did not get the full meaning of the Senator's remarks and did not take note of all Mr. Kerry had to say. Spokesmen for the Senator said while he continues to believe it was right to give the president the authorization to declare war if necessary, the Bush administration did not use that authorization properly and should have devoted more time and effort to winning international support.

John Kerry's own campaign travels Tuesday took him to another crucial electoral state, Nevada. His focus during two appearances in the Las Vegas area was not on the war but on environmental policy.

The federal government runs a highly controversial nuclear waste site in Nevada in an area called Yucca Mountain. Senator Kerry said by endorsing the site, President Bush broke a promise to the people of Nevada.

"And if I am president of the United States, Nevada is not going to have a broken promise," he said. "Nevada is going to have a president who stands up and fights for the citizens who live here and for common sense. And that is what we are going to do."

Senator Kerry will remain in Nevada for most of the day on Wednesday before moving on to California. Meanwhile, President Bush will take his campaign to the Southwestern states of Arizona and New Mexico.

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