Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry took his campaign into the critical swing state of Ohio Saturday with an emphasis on creating new jobs and expanding health care coverage. But many voters along the campaign trail insist that Iraq remains a major issue for them with a little more than two weeks to go until Election Day.
Both the Bush and Kerry campaigns are targeting Ohio as a key state in the November election. Senator Kerry began a bus tour through the state by focusing on jobs, mindful that Ohio has lost more than 230,000 jobs in recent years.
Senator Kerry made note of a recent comment made by U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow, who was quoted by an Ohio newspaper as saying the job losses were "a myth."
"Well, I have a message for our President of the United States," Senator Kerry said. "Mr. President, the people who have lost jobs on your watch are not myths. They are our neighbors, they are middle class Americans and they deserve better."
The Kerry campaign has been emphasizing domestic issues like jobs and health care during a swing through the upper Midwest in recent days. But it is clear from talking to voters in both Ohio and Wisconsin that Iraq and the war on terrorism remain major issues in the campaign.
Willis Petersen attended a Kerry rally in Appleton, Wisconsin. He is concerned about the situation in Iraq.
"Being a veteran, it [the key issue] is Iraq," he said. "But living with my family on Social Security [government retirement assistance], it is also the economy. So it is both."
Senator Kerry is trying to appeal to both domestic and foreign policy concerns in his campaign speeches. One of his standard promises is that, if elected, he will work to improve relations with other countries to help both in Iraq and in the war on terror.
"The world is waiting for us to join again in the community of nations understanding that yes, we have to defend our nation, yes we have to hunt down and kill the terrorists, yes, we have to do whatever is necessary to provide for our security," Senator Kerry said. "And I will never cede the security of our country to any other nation or any institution. But you know as well as I do that the United States of America, any nation, is strongest and our troops most protected when we have friends and allies on our side and we move with other nations."
After bus tours through Wisconsin and Ohio, Senator Kerry next heads to Florida, another key battleground state in this year's election. The Kerry campaign is hoping to mobilize Democrats to get to the polls in Florida, mindful that Republican George Bush's narrow win there over Al Gore four years ago propelled him into the White House.