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Bush Officially Kicks Off Campaign, Criticizes Kerry - 2004-03-20

President Bush has held his first campaign rally of the election year. The president and Mrs. Bush traveled to Florida, where they rallied Republican supporters.

President Bush kicked-off his re-election campaign, with flag-waving supporters chanting, 'four more years.'

Joined on stage by his brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the president said voters have a clear choice this November between continuing his leadership, or following the presumptive Democratic nominee, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.

"It's a choice between keeping the tax relief that is moving this economy forward, or putting the burden of higher taxes back on the American people," he said. "It is a choice between an America that leads the world with strength and confidence, or an America that is uncertain in the face of danger."

The president spent much of his first rally criticizing Senator Kerry's legislative record, which he says shows the Democrat often changes his mind on important issues of security and the economy.

"On national security, Americans have the clearest possible choice," he said. "My opponent says he approves bold action in the world, but only if other countries don't object. I'm all for united action, and so are our 34 coalition partners in Iraq right now."

The president said his record tax cuts are helping improve the U.S. economy by leaving more money in the pockets of consumers, and their buying stimulates further growth. He called Senator Kerry "one of the main opponents of tax relief in the United States Congress."

Democrats say the president's tax cuts unfairly favor wealthier Americans and are driving-up huge federal deficits.

In Saturday's Democratic radio address, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm blamed the president for losing nearly three-million jobs since taking office.

"They continue to negotiate trade deals with no core labor and environmental standards; trade deals that speed the export of American jobs to other countries," she said. "They cut funding for job training and retraining for workers who have lost theirs."

In his weekly radio address, President Bush again marked the first anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. "The liberation of Iraq was good for the Iraqi people, good for America, and good for the world," he said. "The fall of the Iraqi dictator has removed a source of violence, aggression and instability from the Middle East."

He said the United States will not be deterred by terrorist attacks, and will not be shaken in its resolve to fight terrorism.