October 17, 2004

Kerry Talks Economy, Collects Major Endorsement

XENIA, Ohio - Democratic Sen. John Kerry attacked the economic record of President Bush on Saturday and the Senator from Massachusetts was later endorsed by the New York Times.

The Times, in endorsing Kerry, characterized President Bush's presidency as "disastrous" and accused him of "turning the government over to the radical right."

"We are impressed with Mr. Kerry's wide knowledge and clear thinking," the Times said Sundays editions. "He is blessedly willing to reevaluate decisions when conditions change."

Kerry "has qualities that could be the basis for a great chief executive, not just a modest improvement on the incumbent," the newspaper said. "He strikes us, above all, as a man with a strong moral core."

After "examining what the candidates have done in the past, their apparent priorities and their general character," the Times said "we enthusiastically endorse John Kerry for president."

With just 17 days before the Nov. 2 presidential election, Kerry crossed Ohio on a bus in an effort to win a state crucial to both candidates.

"Mr. President, the millions of Americans who have lost jobs on your watch are not 'myths,' they are middle-class families -- and for four years, you've turned your back on them," Kerry told a town hall meeting at a high school.

Kerry was referring to remarks this week by Treasury Secretary John Snow, who said, "Claims like the one that Bush will be the first president to end a term with fewer jobs than when he started are nothing more than 'myths."'


Kerry reeled off statistics to make his case -- Ohio has lost 173,000 Ohio manufacturing jobs since Bush took office in 2001; unemployment rates are higher and 1.3 million Ohio residents lack health insurance.

A Labor Department report earlier this month showed that Bush will go into the election with 821,000 fewer jobs in the country than when he took office.

However, 1.78 million jobs have been added in the past year, the report said.

Bush narrowly won Ohio in 2000. Jimmy Carter in 1976 was the only Democrat to win here in 50 years, and no Republican has ever been elected to the White House without carrying Ohio. Kerry has visited the state 20 times this year in an effort to break the deadlock in local polls, which like national surveys have swung back and forth between the two candidates.

Bush led Kerry 48 percent to 44 percent in the latest Reuters/Zogby poll, released on Saturday. The poll had a 2.9 percentage point margin of error.

Focusing on pocketbook issues, the senator from Massachusetts lambasted Bush for not stemming the outsourcing of U.S. jobs overseas and for giving tax breaks to millionaires and large companies at the expense of working Americans.

Kerry has promised to roll back Bush's tax cut for people making more than $200,000 a year and has pledged not to raise taxes for less well off Americans.

He also criticized the handling of the war in Iraq and said Bush could have done more to avert a flu vaccine shortage caused by problems at a British manufacturer.

Bush campaigned in another crucial state, Florida, and attacked Kerry's record on voting for certain tax increases in the U.S. Senate and on issues like gay marriage and abortion. Bush said Kerry had proposed $2.2 trillion in new spending, "and paying for it would require broad tax increases on small business and the middle class."

Kerry, who will campaign in Florida on Sunday and on Monday, dismissed Bush's comments as "scare tactics."

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