FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. - President Bush told supporters that the nation "must not waver" on fighting terrorism during a rally yesterday afternoon in this northern suburb of Detroit.
Mr. Bush then repeated the familiar charge that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is "known to waver" - a jab that brought laughter and applause from the thousands gathered at Oakland Community College's Orchard Ridge Campus.
"I refuse to stand by while dangers gather," Mr. Bush said, before proclaiming that "terrorists will suffer a crushing defeat."
His speech touched on a variety of hot topics including Iraq, the economy, health care, medical malpractice, education, and Social Security.
Mr. Bush joked that electing his opponent would lead to "Hillarycare," poking fun at Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who worked on health care during her husband's administration.
The President said health-care decisions should be made by "doctors and patients, not by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C."
Adrianne Marsh, speaking for the Michigan Democratic coordinated campaign, said Mr. Bush's administration has not lived up to its promises during the past four years.
"The Bush administration has continued to fail Michigan's working families," said Ms. Marsh, pointing to job losses and rising prescription drug costs. "The Bush administration has been the one to waver and change positions."
The President's audience yesterday included a mix of veterans, families - and a large showing of teenagers.
Emily Cavanaugh, 15, of Livonia, took off the afternoon from school to attend the rally with friends. She was disappointed Mr. Bush didn't address topics such as abortion and same-sex marriages. The students, who were encouraged to attend by a teacher, said it was a rare opportunity to hear a sitting president speak in person.
"I'm not the biggest Bush fan," said Ms. Cavanaugh, who was tucked into a sea of Bush-Cheney signs. "I wanted to hear him talk and give him a chance."
About 80 members of the University of Michigan College Republicans turned out to show their support for Mr. Bush.
"I think he was great," said Allison Jacobs, 19, the chairman of the campus organization. "He emphasized Kerry's mistakes and flip-flops during the debate.
"Every time [Mr. Bush] comes here, it makes us work harder on campus."
Sam Provenzola, 50, of Farmington Hills, said he came to show his support for the President.
"I agree with just about everything he said," said Mr. Provenzola, a Ford employee. "Obviously he is preaching to the choir, but if people see him on TV, maybe they'll think about what he is saying."
Joseph J. Malla, a 69-year-old Vietnam veteran from Troy, said he appreciates Mr. Bush's honesty. "He's straightforward," said Mr. Malla, who saw Mr. Bush during a campaign visit four years ago. "What you see is what you get."
The President was introduced yesterday by local hero Bill Laimbeer, a former Detroit Piston and current coach of the WNBA's Detroit Shock.
Mr. Bush mentioned that former University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler also was in the audience.
U.S. Sen. John Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, plans to visit Michigan tomorrow and Saturday.
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