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Bush Challenges Likely Democratic Opponent Kerry's Record - 2004-03-04

President Bush is challenging the record of his likely Democratic opponent in this year's election, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.

President Bush told supporters in California that he will run a national campaign and will not allow Democrats to win the biggest electoral state without a fight. "The Vice President and I are going to be spending some quality time in the state of California," he said. "With your help, we are going to make California part of a nation-wide victory in November of '04."

Democrats traditionally win California, but with this year's election of Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mr. Bush says the voters of California have shown that no party can take the state for granted.

With Mr. Kerry now the presumptive Democratic nominee, President Bush telephoned the Massachusetts Senator Tuesday night to congratulate him on his primary win and kick-off the general election. "I told him I was looking forward to a spirited campaign. I congratulated him on his victory. This should be an interesting debate on the issues. He spent two decades in Congress. He built up quite a record," said Mr. Bush. "In fact, Senator Kerry has been in Washington long enough to take both sides on just about every issue."

The president says voters will have a very clear choice in November between keeping his record tax cuts, which he says are helping strengthen the U.S. economy, or putting what he calls the burden of higher taxes back on the American people.

Along with the economy, fighting terrorism is an equally important campaign issue for the president. And he says he has made the nation safer since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

"It's a choice between an America that leads the world with strength and confidence," says Mr. Bush. "Or an America that is uncertain in the face of danger."

The president says he has heard a lot of what he calls partisan anger from his Democratic opponents, and anger, he says, is not an agenda for America's future.

Mr. Bush says he has a positive vision for winning the war against terrorism and creating jobs in America. He says the campaign will leave no doubt where he stands, and he told supporters he will win re-election. That confidence is reflected in the first television commercials for the Bush-Cheney campaign set to run in more than a dozen states Thursday.

One of the ads recounts the challenges Mr. Bush has faced since taking office, from a declining economy to terrorist attacks.

Some challenges we've seen before. And some were like no others. But American rose to the challenge.

In that ad, Mr. Bush says he knows exactly where he wants to lead the country. This first media buy will cost the campaign about four million dollars. There is still more than $100 million in the bank to spend before the Republican convention in August.