By John McCarthy
The Associated Press
COLUMBUS - John Kerry on Monday focused on President Bush at a rally for college students, while John Edwards implored supporters to show Democrats that he won't be finished after the 10 primaries and caucuses today.
Ohio has 140 delegates up for grabs, the third highest total on Super Tuesday after California and New York. Kerry, who has a substantial lead in delegates over Edwards, spoke only of Bush at the rally in Ohio State University's student union.
Edwards, who has won only in South Carolina, had stops in the Democratic strongholds of Toledo, Dayton and Cleveland. He said he knows he must win somewhere today.
"At some point, I've got to start getting more delegates or I'm not going to be the nominee," Edwards told reporters in Toledo. He declined to say how many states he would need to win today.
Kerry told about 900 people, most of them students, that Bush is responsible for the loss of more than 200,000 jobs. He also hammered away at the president on foreign policy, especially the decision to go to war against Iraq without the approval of many nations.
"I believe this president has conducted the most arrogant, reckless policy," Kerry said. "You need to do the one thing better that this administration does worse - and that's cooperate better with the rest of the world."
Bush's record has been one that has polarized Americans, he said.
"He's going to try to scare America and divide America and go to the lowest common denominator," Kerry said.
Students attending the rally said it was important for the Democrats to nominate a candidate who can defeat Bush. Dozens of members of the university's chapter of the College Democrats stood with Kerry on the stage.
"I'm at the point now where I want somebody who can beat Bush," said Amie McCarthy, a 21-year-old junior. "I feel Bush has the country in a rabbit hole and Kerry can pull us out of it."
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry speaks during a rally at Ohio State University Monday.
Rep. Rob Portman, a Terrace Park Republican who is close to Bush, defended the president and criticized Kerry as a man of few ideas.
"The president has a very aggressive economic plan," Portman said in a conference call Monday. "Senator Kerry's had a lot of negative sound bites out there. They just don't add up to an economic plan."
In Cleveland, Edwards found some unlikely support.
"Republicans for Edwards," read the homemade sign that Republican Jeff Allen of Chagrin Falls held.
"It's his message. He's positive," Allen said. "We're not getting that from the other side."
Edwards spoke to a crowd of about 200 jammed into a lobby at a regional airport near the city's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The loudest applause came when he bashed Bush's policies on the economy and education.
Addie Spier, a demonstrator and pre-medicine senior at Case Western Reserve University said she's unhappy with the president's AIDS plan and wants a global program fully funded to help prevent and treat the disease in Africa and elsewhere.
Edwards said in Dayton he feels voter momentum is shifting his way in Ohio.
"I think in Ohio we are seeing enormous movement," he said. "We've created a lot of energy. I feel very, very good about Ohio."
Earlier, the North Carolina senator bashed the president on trade in a speech to about 400 people in the University of Toledo student union ballroom.
"Bush knows all about free trade - he needs to learn about fair trade," Edwards said. "You give me a shot at George Bush, and I'll give you back the White House."
It was the third Ohio visit for both candidates.
Even in the conservative Cincinnati area, both the Kerry and Edwards campaigns made last-minute attempts to reach voters.
Edwards volunteers held signs at intersections such as Seymour and Reading on Monday night, while singer-songwriter Carole King added a musical note to a Kerry event downtown.
The better-organized Kerry volunteers were calling voters Monday evening and today, and both campaigns planned to hand out leaflets at polling places today.
Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken and Vice Mayor Alicia Reece were among Kerry supporters who attended a rally for the senator Monday in Columbus.
The candidates have come only as far south as Dayton in their past two weeks of crisscrossing Ohio. Southwest Ohio is among the most Republican areas in the state, and with Ohio just one of 10 states holding primaries today, the top Democratic contenders are targeting their strongholds. In the last presidential primary, 64 percent of Hamilton County voters picked up a Republican ballot, and the percentage was even higher in Butler, Clermont and Warren counties.
Former Democratic Sen. John Glenn said he hopes today's primaries end the nomination fight. That would give Kerry, whom Glenn has endorsed, more time to organize for the November election.
At the Cleveland City Club, Dennis Kucinich gave a fiery speech before a hometown crowd in which he criticized Bush, Kerry and Edwards on the war in Iraq and trade issues. He also said was a better choice than either Kerry or Edwards.
Kucinich said Kerry and Edwards aren't in a position to challenge Bush on the war because they both voted for it following the president's warnings of weapons of mass destruction.
"What kind of position are they going to be in to say they were fooled by George Bush?" Kucinich said. "The president will demolish them in a debate over Iraq. But not me, because I led the effort against it."
Cindi Andrews and Carl Weiser of the Enquirer contributed.
Kerry, Edwards bash Bush on eve of vote
2 seek Ohio Senate seat
Same-sex debate comes to Ky.
Local NAACP to pay voters $2 to register
Four vie for Warren seat
Region's voters to decide 19 issues
2004 Election Guide
Bronson: Why is city's tax money tied to gay debate?
Environmental group says area lawmakers rate low
Stream monitors hit 50-hour mark
TOP LOCAL HEADLINES
Alert clerk helps bust meth lab
Abuse claims due by Sept. 1
Fernald standards upheld
Obstacles emerging to Ky. casino bills
5 A Day: Eat 'em, kids
Debt-ridden Tall Stacks sues
Felony charge against trustee won't proceed
Reporter denies charges
Local terror response boosted
Area schools ready for enrollment
Ohio 747 project leads Butler engineer's list
Newport debates rules for East Row expansion
Fire destroys empty home in Hyde Park
Urban Siegrist, 87, Fort Wright pioneer
Patrick Cottingham II taught for thirty years