President Bush says Democratic challenger Senator John Kerry does not understand what is needed to fight terrorism and would weaken efforts to protect against another attack. The president is campaigning for re-election the eastern state of New Jersey.
President Bush is refocusing his campaign on the fight against terrorism, returning to one of his biggest electoral strengths after domestic politics dominated the days following last week's final presidential debate.
Public opinion polls show fighting terrorism is the president's most popular issue with voters, where he is beating his Democratic challenger by a margin of nearly two-to-one.
The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows nearly one-third of the electorate say terrorism is their most important issue, and those voters are four times more likely to favor Mr. Bush.
So the president came to New Jersey for what his campaign called a major speech on terrorism just hours after he approved nearly $29 billion for the Department of Homeland Security.
Much of the rally was meant to evoke memories of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001: from choosing New Jersey - which lost more than 700 citizens in the collapse of the World Trade Center - to having Mr. Bush introduced by Bernard Kerik, who was the New York police commissioner at the time.
"It's about one of the most important things in this country today, and that is making this country safer," he said. "And there is one man, and one man only, that can do it, George W. Bush."
President Bush told Republican supporters that the best way to prevent another terrorist attack is to stay on the offensive.
"We face an enemy that is determined to kill the innocent and make our country into a battlefield," he said. "In the war on terror, there is no place for confusion and no substitute for victory."
President Bush says this election offers voters a clear choice about their future.
"And in this time of choosing, I want all Americans to know, you can count on me to fight our enemies and defend our freedom," he said.
President Bush says Senator Kerry has a fundamental misunderstanding of the fight against terrorism.
"He says that pre-emptive action is unwise not only against regimes, but even against terrorist organizations. Senator Kerry's approach would permit a response only after America is hit. This kind of September-the-10th attitude is no way to protect our country," he said.
President Bush is leading Senator Kerry by eight percentage points in the latest Gallup poll. Several others, but not all, give the president a lead, as well.
The Bush campaign says it is still competing to win New Jersey, where state polls show terrorism is the most important issue in this election. Senator Kerry was ahead in the state by 20 percentage points in August. That lead is now down to between four and eight percent.
But a political rally in southern New Jersey also guarantees coverage in the much more competitive race in the neighboring state of Pennsylvania, especially in the high-priced media market around the city of Philadelphia.
Of the remaining so-called swing states which could go either way, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida are the biggest, with many analysts predicting the man who wins at least two of the three will win the presidency.