Monday, October 25, 2004
Bush, Kerry hammer home themes
By Tom Raum
and Nedra Pickler
The Associated Press
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - President Bush and Sen. John Kerry stayed on the offensive in swing states Sunday as the presidential race entered its final full week.
In a television interview, Bush said it is "up in the air" whether the nation can ever be fully safe from another terror attack and suggested terrorists may still be contemplating ways to disrupt the election.
For the fourth consecutive Sunday, Kerry spoke at a predominantly black church, this one in Fort Lauderdale in heavily Democratic Broward County, and promised worshippers their votes would be counted this time.
The county saw some of the worst of Florida's 2000 vote-counting abuses. "I want you to turn out," the Democrat said.
Kerry pressed his attack on the president's record in new TV ads, while on the campaign trail he sought to strike a more inspirational tone, saying in a speech on faith that values he practices as a Roman Catholic "will guide me as president."
The Democrat took on church bishops who have criticized his support for abortion rights and expanded embryonic stem cell research and who have said he should be denied Holy Communion for not advancing church teachings.
"I love my church, I respect the bishops, but I respectfully disagree," Kerry said.
With polls showing the race still tight, the campaigns were focusing their efforts on fewer than a dozen states that remain highly competitive, with both camps making last-minute scheduling decisions to reflect realities on the ground.
The Massachusetts senator was headed to New Hampshire after campaign stops in Florida. Bush won both states in 2000. The Republican incumbent was campaigning in New Mexico, which Democrat Al Gore narrowly won in 2000.
In a taped interview with Fox News Channel, Bush was asked whether the nation would always be vulnerable to another terror attack and whether Americans would always have to live with that.
"Yes, because we have to be right 100 percent of the time in disrupting any plot and they have to be right once," Bush said.
He said the nation is safer from terrorism, but "whether or not we can be ever fully safe is up - you know, up in the air."
Bush said he was sure terrorists still "think about" trying to disrupt the Nov. 2 elections, citing the March 11 train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 people right before Spain's national elections.
"I don't want to alarm anybody because ... there's nothing specific at this point in time - a kind of general intent," Bush said in the interview, to be broadcast tonight.
In the Fox News Channel interview taped Saturday in Florida, Bush also was asked whether a nuclear, chemical or biological attack in the United States is a real possibility. "Yes it is," Bush replied. "That's the biggest threat we face."
Polls showed little movement, with the race essentially even nationally and in major swing states. New polls showed an even race in Arkansas, Florida and Nevada, with Kerry up slightly in New Hampshire, New Jersey and Maine.
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