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Bush Campaigns in West Virginia - 2004-09-05

President Bush is campaigning in the important swing state of West Virginia with two national opinion polls now showing him with a double-digit lead over Democratic challenger John Kerry.

It's the second Sunday in a row that President Bush is campaigning in West Virginia, a state he won four years ago, and a place that Republican officials believe Senator Kerry must pick up to win the general election.

So the Bush campaign is pushing hard to keep the state in their column with their eighth, and certainly not their last, visit this election year.

"It's great to be back in West Virginia," said Mr. Bush. "Seems like I'm making a habit [of] coming here. It ought to be clear to the people of this state that I want to carry West Virginia again."

That means getting Democratic voters to cross over and cast their ballots for the president in November. At Parkersburg High School, President Bush welcomed Democrats in the crowd at a rally on the school's sports field.

"I want to thank you all for coming. See, my message is for everybody," he added. "A safer, stronger, better America is for every citizen of this country."

West Virginians heard the president's standard stump speech: that the economy is getting better, that Senator Kerry wants to raise taxes, and that the challenges facing the country in the fight against terrorism are best met by giving him another four years in office.

"I believe the most solemn duty of the president is to protect the American people," said Mr. Bush. "If America shows uncertainty and weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This is not going to happen on my watch."

Two public opinion polls, by the weekly news magazines Time and Newsweek, put Mr. Bush ahead of Senator Kerry by more than ten percentage points. If those numbers hold up, that would be a considerably larger bounce for the president coming out of last week's Republican convention than Senator Kerry saw coming out of July's Democratic convention.

Bush Campaign Manager Ken Mehlman says, while the polls are encouraging, it is still too soon to say whether the president is really pulling ahead after months of a neck-and-neck contest.

"I think that it's going to be an election that is topsy turvy, that is hard fought the entire time," said Mr. Mehlman. "I think when we get more polls back next week, we will have a sense of whether we have a small lead that is consistent across the board. Then we will have that sense and where the numbers are we will have a sense after we get some more data back."

President Bush continues his non-stop campaigning out of the Republican convention with a rally and bus tour Monday and Tuesday through another important swing state, Missouri.