Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry spoke at a late night rally Thursday, timed to begin right after President Bush's address marking the end of the Republican National Convention. Senator Kerry used the occasion to denounce recent Republican criticism that he is not qualified to be president.
Speaking in the midwestern state of Ohio, Senator Kerry said President Bush has misled the American people and offered nothing more than broken promises. Mr. Kerry said President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq and his record on jobs, health care and energy prices make him unfit to lead the nation.
"This president is quite proud of the fact that not even failure is going to force him to change course. I will tell you what will force him to change course, you are going to force him to change course," said Mr. Kerry. "We are going to change course this November."
The Democratic presidential nominee used his appearance to display what a top campaign official described as a new, more confrontational style. Senator Kerry, a decorated combat veteran of the war in Vietnam, lashed out at President Bush and Vice President Cheney for avoiding service in that conflict.
"I will not have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and by those who have misled the nation into Iraq," he said.
Earlier in the week in a speech to the Republican convention, Vice President Dick Cheney accused Mr. Kerry of being unfit to be president because of what he called his misguided actions over the years.
With the political rhetoric heating up on both sides, the Kerry camp is launching an $8 million advertising campaign that will accuse President Bush of failing to meet his promises from four years ago. Democrats are eager to get more of the media spotlight after a week of coverage focused on the Republican convention.