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Published: Thursday, 7/29/2004

Kerry-Edwards bus tour headed for stop in Bowling Green

BY JAMES DREW
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS - U.S. Sen. John Kerry and his running mate, U.S. Sen. John Edwards, will stop in downtown Bowling Green on Sunday afternoon as part of their bus tour after the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

The two candidates and their wives, Teresa Heinz Kerry and Elizabeth Edwards, will hold a Main Street rally in the city of nearly 30,000, the Kerry campaign announced yesterday.

Gates to the event are set to open at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the north side of the intersection of Wooster and Main streets, said Brendon Cull, a Democratic spokesman.

The Kerry campaign has arranged for free parking at Bowling Green State University's Perry Stadium, with free shuttle buses to and from the downtown rally. Free tickets are available at several sites, including the Wood and Lucas County Democratic headquarters.

Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards are expected to arrive sometime after 3 p.m., Mr. Cull said.

Kerry campaign officials chose Bowling Green as a stop on the "Believe in America Tour" because the Democrats will contest President Bush for the state's 20 electoral votes in every region of Ohio, Mr. Cull said.

In the 2000 presidential election, Democrat Al Gore cut short his Ohio campaign. On Election Day, George Bush won the state by 3.5 percentage points.

Mr. Bush carried Wood County over Mr. Gore by 27,504 votes to 22,867. Mr Gore did not campaign in northwest Ohio in 2000, scrapping plans to hold a get-out-the-vote event Nov. 1 in the Toledo area to try to solidify support in Florida.

"John Kerry is intending to bring his message to voters all over Ohio, and that includes places like Cleveland and Columbus, and it also includes places like Zanesville and Bowling Green," Mr. Cull said.

After the Bowling Green rally on Sunday afternoon, an impromptu stop in Toledo is possible before the bus heads into Michigan.

Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards plan to take different paths after the Bowling Green rally or after a stop in Michigan, Mr. Cull said.

The 3,500-mile tour will take the Democratic ticket to 21 states.

This Saturday, Mr. Bush plans to take a campaign bus tour with stops in Canton, Cambridge, and Pittsburgh before returning to the White House that night.

Tom Noe, co-chairman of Mr. Bush's campaign in northwest Ohio, said he is not surprised that Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards are heading to Bowling Green.

"They know we are doing a great job in northwest Ohio in the grass roots and they feel they are vulnerable. If we do the job in northwest Ohio, President Bush wins Ohio," he said.

Mr. Bush was in Wood County on Jan. 21. A day after the State of the Union address, he spoke to 300 invited guests at Owens Community College in Perrysburg Township, praising the college's job-training programs.

Mr. Kerry will become the second Democratic presidential candidate to visit Bowling Green since John F. Kennedy in 1959.

On Aug. 26, 1996, President Bill Clinton stopped in Bowling Green as part of the train tour he took to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

About 15,000 people packed East Wooster Street and surrounding blocks near the Conrail tracks. Mr. Clinton emerged from the train and put on a BGSU cap before addressing the crowd for 30 minutes.

Contact James Drew at:

jdrew@theblade.com or

614-221-0496.



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