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Bush, Kerry Return to Campaign Trail - 2004-10-14

President Bush and Democratic challenger Senator John Kerry are back on the campaign trail after their third and last debate. Both men rallied supporters in the southwest state of Nevada.

President Bush says he is enthusiastic about his chances for re-election and is looking forward to a campaign sprint to the finish.

"With only 19 days to the election, the finish line is in sight. And Nevada will be a part of a great nationwide victory on November 2," said Mr. Bush.

Mr. Bush told Republican supporters at the University of Nevada Las Vegas that Wednesday's debate with Senator Kerry showed Americans that they have a clear choice in this election.

"Those debates, all three debates clarified the differences in our records, our approaches, and our plans for the future," he added. "I'm proud of my record. My opponent seemed to want to avoid talking about his."

President Bush says Senator Kerry's legislative record shows 20 years of votes outside the political mainstream. Mr. Bush says his Democratic opponent would have to raise taxes to pay for more than $2 trillion in new government spending.

"He has voted to raise taxes 98 times," said Mr. Bush. "That is a vote for a tax increase about five times every year. I think that qualifies as a pattern. He can run from his record, but he cannot hide."

Senator Kerry was also in Las Vegas where he spoke to a convention of retirees. In a city best known for its casinos, the Democratic candidate criticized the president's proposals for reforming American health care.

"Best bet, single deck blackjack. Worst bet: Bush health care plan," said Mr. Kerry.

Senator Kerry says he would roll back parts of the president's record tax cuts for Americans earning more than $200,000 a year. He says the president's lack of fiscal discipline has hurt the U.S. economy.

"George Bush has had four years to face this truth and do something about it. Anything," he added. "Do anything about it to make life better for hardworking families in America. But instead of seizing the moment, I believe he has squandered the opportunity."

In a rare visit to the press cabin on Air Force One, President Bush said there is a lot of enthusiasm for his candidacy because people have seen him lead and know that he has got plans for the next four years.

Asked about early polls showing that Senator Kerry won Wednesday's debate, Mr. Bush said pundits all have their opinions, but the only opinion that matters is the opinion of voters on Election Day.