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Bush Seeks to Energize Supporters, Appeals to Democrats  - 2004-10-28


President Bush is campaigning almost non-stop in the days leading up to next Tuesday's election, seeking to energize members of his Republican Party while appealing to Democrats who may not be enthusiastic about their own nominee, John Kerry.

Symbols are always important to a presidential campaign, but never more so than in the final days of a close race.

For the Bush campaign, there is the folksy sound of country music, and the sight of the presidential jet with all the trappings of power gently landing at a small town airport in Ohio.

"Thanks so much for coming. My fellow Republicans, discerning Democrats, wise independents, I'm here to ask for your vote and ask for your help," he said.

The focus these days for the president is to energize members of his own Republican Party, while reaching out to Democrats with doubts about John Kerry.

For the Republican faithful, there is tough talk about Senator Kerry. The senator has been focusing lately on new revelations that hundreds of tons of explosives have disappeared from a former Iraqi military installation. Mr. Kerry says word of the missing munitions, confirmed this week by the International Atomic Energy Agency, is the latest in a series of Bush administration blunders in Iraq.

The president broke his silence about the lost explosives on Wednesday, telling audiences in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan that Senator Kerry is denigrating American troops in Iraq. He said the disappearance may have occurred before the war began.

"See, our military is now investigating a number of possible scenarios, including this one -- that explosives may have been moved before our troops even arrived, even arrived at the site. The investigation is important and ongoing. And a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not the person you want as the Commander-in-Chief," he said.

For those who might be wavering Democrats, the president brought up controversial social issues, emphasizing his opposition to abortion and homosexual marriage.

"I know that Democrats are not going to agree with me on every issue, yet on the big issues of our country's security, victory in the war against terror, improving our public schools, respecting marriage and human life, I hope people who usually vote for the other party will take a close look at my agenda," he said.

To underscore that point, the Bush campaign brought along Georgia Democratic Senator Zell Miller, who made a personal appeal to members of his party. "The choice we face is as clear as clear can be. Which man will keep our families most safe from the terrorists? Which man will make a decision in tough times and stand by it," he said.

Senator Miller traveled with the Bush campaign on a day that began with an early morning airport rally in rural Pennsylvania and ended with a speech at a sports arena near one of America's biggest cities, Detroit, Michigan.

Detroit is a Democratic stronghold, and campaign officials described the event in nearby Pontiac as an effort to reach out to working class Democrats who voted for Ronald Reagan in the 1980's and might be persuaded to vote Republican again. They indicate these voters could be the key to victory in a crucial state where the race is just too close to call.

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