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Published: Wednesday, 9/1/2004

Rival campaigns will return to Ohio

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU
Christine Olson, left, and Renee Amore of the Pennsylvania delegation casttheir votes thatgave President Bush the GOP nomination. Christine Olson, left, and Renee Amore of the Pennsylvania delegation casttheir votes thatgave President Bush the GOP nomination.
MARTHA RIAL / POST-GAZETTE Enlarge

COLUMBUS - In what is suddenly becoming a post-convention tradition, President Bush and his Democratic opponent John Kerry will stump for votes in Ohio at the same time this weekend.

Mr. Kerry will beat the President to the punch, using a midnight rally in Springfield with running mate John Edwards to immediately respond to Mr. Bush's acceptance speech tomorrow night at the Republican National Convention in New York City.

"The tradition that's been observed is that you wait until a candidate's convention ends before you campaign," said Kerry spokesman Jennifer Palmieri. "That's what we will do.

"Sen. Kerry will come to the state, and he'll watch Bush's speech in the state," she said. "As soon as that gavel goes down, the final stretch of a very long election cycle begins, and Sens.

Kerry and Edwards don't want to waste a minute of it."

Polls have the candidates in a dead heat for Ohio's 20 electoral votes. Mr. Bush carried the state by 3.5 percentage points in 2000. No Republican has won the presidency without carrying Ohio.

After the rally, Mr. Edwards will break off for Wisconsin while Mr. Kerry continues his Labor Day weekend bus tour of Ohio towns that he will argue have been forgotten by the economic turnaround Mr. Bush is likely to tout during his speech.

On Friday afternoon, the Massachusetts senator will rally on the Courthouse Square at the center of Newark, east of Columbus. The next morning he will rally in Akron and then push on to Steubenville on the Ohio River.

Mr. Bush will fly into Cleveland Friday night after a whirlwind post-convention tour of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Iowa. On Saturday, he will launch a more traditional bus tour, starting with an "Ask President Bush" forum at 9 a.m. in Cleveland and continuing with a noon rally in Lake County before he moves on to Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The Bush campaign had yet to announce exact locations for the events.

"The idea is to make our way to town after town across the country," said Bush spokesman Kevin Madden. "The President will make his case to the American people about his record of accomplishment."

While Mr. Kerry rallies Saturday morning in Akron, Mr. Bush will be in Cleveland.

That's as close as the two candidates will pass during this stretch.

The two candidates passed within a few miles of each other in eastern Ohio during the weekend after the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

The importance of Ohio to Mr. Bush's re-election will be demonstrated again today when he makes his final campaign stop here before heading for the convention.

Mr. Bush plans to fly in and out of Columbus for a 5 p.m. rally at Nationwide Arena downtown, just four days after he participated in events in Perrysburg and two other western Ohio towns.

"Our emphasis on Ohio can be measured in people - over 60,000 volunteers, 13 staffers, and the largest grass-roots campaign ever seen in Ohio," said Mr. Madden. "That's how important we think this state is."

On Tuesday, Mr. Edwards will return to central Ohio to campaign in Ohio's original capital, Chillicothe.

Contact Jim Provance at:

jprovance@theblade.com

or 614-221-0496.



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