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Published: Sunday, 10/3/2004

In bus tour of Ohio, President lashes out at 'Kerry doctrine'

BY JAMES DREW
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio - In his first visit to Ohio since Thursday's debate, President Bush's swagger had a sharper edge yesterday as he asserted that John Kerry would give "foreign governments veto power over our national security decisions. "

"When he laid out the Kerry doctrine, he said that America has to pass a global test before we can use American troops to defend ourselves," Mr. Bush said at a rally, outside the civic center, that attracted about 15,000.

"When our country is in danger, it is not the President's job to take an international poll; the President's job is to defend America," Mr. Bush added.

The President referred to Mr. Kerry's statement at the debate in Coral Gables, Fla., that the U.S. President always has had the power to order a pre-emptive strike to defend the nation. Mr. Kerry added that the decision must pass "the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing, and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons."

In addition to the afternoon rally in Cuyahoga Falls, Mr. Bush made the "Kerry doctrine" charge in a speech in Columbus to the National Association of Home Builders and at a rowdy campaign event in a historic theater in Mansfield.

A Kerry aide said Mr. Bush's "characterization of what Mr. Kerry said at the debate is ludicrous."

"It's sad to see the President of the United States flailing about with these types of attacks after Sen. Kerry's commanding and thoughtful performance at Thursday night's debate," said Jennifer Palmieri, Mr. Kerry's press secretary in Ohio. "Ohioans know that John Kerry has the ability to lead this country and our world in a way that will make us more secure," she added.

The first poll taken after the presidential debate showed Mr. Kerry running statistically even with Mr. Bush. The Democrat had the support of 47 percent and Mr. Bush 45 percent in the Newsweek poll. Independent candidate Ralph Nader had the backing of 2 percent.

Mr. Bush was slightly up, 49-43, in the same poll in early September and up 11 points in the Newsweek poll taken right after the GOP convention. The poll of 1,013 registered voters was taken from late Thursday to early yesterday and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Mr. Bush began his one-day bus tour yesterday with a speech in Columbus touting his administration's record in promoting home ownership.

"You may have noticed I'm spending some quality time here," Mr. Bush told about 2,100 members of the National Association of Home Builders, referring to his 27th visit to Ohio since taking office.

On the eve of Mr. Bush's latest trip, Democrats released a TV ad that said Ohio courts recorded 57,083 foreclosure filings in 2003, up 3 percent from the previous year, 31 percent from 2001, and more than double the number in 1998.

In his speech to the homebuilders group, the President received the loudest applause and a standing ovation when he said "we must remove the regulatory barriers on our homebuilders "so that more affordable housing can be built.

Mr. Bush then jumped into his campaign bus and the motorcade headed northeast through five counties - four of which he carried in 2000 over Al Gore. The exception was Summit County, where Mr. Gore won by just over 23,000 votes.

The report includes information from the Associated Press.

Contact James Drew at jdrew@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.



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