Sunday, October 3, 2004

Bush mocks 'Kerry Doctrine' on global policy

By Gregory Korte
Enquirer staff writer

President Bush rolls up his sleeves before addressing supporters during a campaign rally Sunday in Cuyahoga Falls. Bush mocked opponent John Kerry's "contradictions on Iraq."

CUYAHOGA FALLS - Campaigning in three Ohio cities Saturday, President Bush coined a new term - "the Kerry Doctrine" - to ridicule the worldview his opponent described in last week's presidential debate.

Though Bush's seven-hour campaign bus tour through Columbus, Mansfield and suburban Akron was supposed to be dedicated to the president's plans for homeownership, Bush was still coming up with responses to questions asked at the foreign-policy debate in Miami.

Acknowledging that Kerry expressed himself well in the debate, Bush nonetheless attacked Kerry's "continued pattern of confusing contradictions on Iraq."

The Kerry Doctrine, Bush said, is this: "That America has to pass a global test before we can use troops to defend ourselves. Senator Kerry's approach to foreign policy would give foreign governments veto power over national security decisions."

"I have a different view," Bush said. "When our country is in danger, the president's job is not to take an international poll. The president's job is to defend America."

Backing Bush's new attack is a new television ad that will begin running in Ohio on Monday, called "Global Test."

The Kerry campaign shot back angrily in a statement.

"George Bush lost the debate," it said. "Now he's lying about it. What Kerry actually said was that the decision to invade should pass 'the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.' "

That President Bush returned to Ohio for the second time in six days - during a week in which debate preparations shortened the time left for campaigning - again demonstrates how hard-fought Ohio is. Kerry will campaign in Youngstown and Cleveland today, and both campaigns launched new ads in Ohio this weekend.

And with the vice presidential debate in Cleveland Tuesday, at least one of the running mates - Democratic Sen. John Edwards - was expected to campaign in Cleveland before and after the debate.

"We can never emphasize enough how important Ohio is," said Bush campaign spokesman Kevin Madden.

Bush himself told a Summit County crowd of 18,000 who waited for hours in a cold autumn rain: "I love coming to your state. I've been spending some quality time here."

With the foreign-policy debate over and two more debates left to go, Bush tried to shift emphasis to domestic policy Saturday, with events highlighting his plan to increase homeownership.

He spoke to the National Association of Home Builders meeting in Columbus, held a "Focus on Homeownership" event in Mansfield, and accepted the Fraternal Order of Police endorsement at a rally in Cuyahoga Falls. That last visit made Bush the first sitting president ever to stop in the 50,000-population, middle-class suburb north of Akron.

Bush told the home builders that the country faced "an historic national election" in 31 days.

"Who's counting?" he joked.

Homeownership is one plank of what Bush called an "ownership society" - a plan that would also allow workers to invest part of their Social Security taxes in private accounts, and would offer health savings accounts to allow workers greater control over their health coverage.

"It must be a fantastic feeling to be a part of the American Dream," Bush told the homeowners. "It must be magnificent to see somebody walk in to their home and feel the pride of ownership, the fantastic feeling of saying to a son or daughter: Here's your room; here's our piece of property."

Campaigning in Florida, Kerry invoked the same themes, saying, "The American Dream is on the ballot."

Indeed, even before Air Force One touched down in Columbus, the Democratic National Committee unveiled a new ad - to air in Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland - critical of Bush's record on homeownership.

"Republicans are coming to Ohio to talk about ownership and the American Dream," the ad says. "But the facts are: More than 57,000 Ohio homeowners were forced to foreclose on their homes last year. One foreclosure for every 78 households."

Most of the 2,500 flag-waving home builders in Columbus seemed to take Bush's side. Dan deStephano, a West Chester home builder, was impressed with the president's message. Most builders are small businesses concerned about government regulation, taxes and lawsuits.

"He speaks to the entrepreneurial spirit of America, and the home builders are the heartbeat of that spirit," deStephano said.

Those protesting Bush became more visible the further north Bush traveled.

Saturday morning in Columbus, there seemed to be almost as many Bush supporters protesting the protesters as there were anti-war and gay-rights activists opposing the president. The anti-Bush numbers picked up in Mansfield, and in Cuyahoga Falls, where more than 100 protesters stood across the street from the natatorium parking lot where Bush spoke.


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