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Published: Tuesday, 8/3/2004

President to make quick return to Buckeye State


COLUMBUS - President Bush will waste little time returning to battleground Ohio.

After visiting Cleveland on Friday and Canton and Cambridge Saturday, the President will hold an "Ask President Bush" town hall event Thursday in Columbus.

The afternoon event will be held at the Aladdin Shrine Center, a meeting complex on Stelzer Road in the northern part of the city, campaign spokesman Kevin Madden said.

After his stop in Ohio, Mr. Bush will fly to Saginaw, Mich., for a similar event as he continues on the campaign trail leading to the Republican National Convention in New York at the end of August.

The visit will be Mr. Bush's 20th to Ohio since he took office and his seventh so far this year. But it will be his first visit to Columbus since October, 2003.

In 2000, Mr. Bush took Ohio from Al Gore by just 3.5 percentage points, and the state is considered crucial to his re-election.

Polls show Mr. Bush and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, his recently nominated Democrat challenger, locked in a dead heat for the Buckeye State.

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