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Published: Saturday, 10/16/2004

Edwards: Bush can't see, can't fix 'mess'

BY STEVE EDER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards greets a rally at Mentor High. Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards greets a rally at Mentor High.
TONY DEJAK / AP Enlarge

MENTOR, Ohio - Democratic vice-presidential nominee John Edwards told supporters at a town-hall meeting yesterday that President Bush is "out-of-touch" with problems facing the nation.

The North Carolina senator, speaking to more than 2,000 people at Mentor High School, said his opponents' views differ from the mainstream on issues such as outsourcing, health care, prescription drugs, and Iraq.

"If you can't see a mess, you can't fix a mess," said Mr. Edwards, whose visit to Ohio came on the heels of his wife, Elizabeth Edwards, who met with voters in Sandusky, Lima, and Columbus on Sunday and Monday.

Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry will visit southern Ohio today.

Mr. Edwards slammed the Bush Administration for remarks made by Treasury Secretary John Snow earlier in the week in Findlay, who reportedly called criticisms of the President's economic record a "myth."

"Why don't you tell that to the 230,000 people who have lost jobs in Ohio?" said Mr. Edwards, offering a list of problems with health care and prescription drugs.

He added, "The truth is that all these things are real, and they are real for the people of Ohio."

Mr. Bush's campaign said Mr. Snow's remarks were taken out of context by Democrats after they were printed in the Findlay Courier.

Kevin Madden, a spokesman for President Bush's campaign, said the administration has helped put the economy on the rebound.

"John Kerry and John Edwards have used every chance to talk down the Ohio economy," Mr. Madden said.

"Pessimism has never created a job in Ohio."

Mr. Edwards also hammered President Bush's record on education, repeating the complaint that the No Child Left Behind Act has not been appropriately funded.

He alleged bad education policy has forced schools to institute "pay-to-play" policies for extracurricular activities.

"Young people having to pay to play sports - what is that about?" he asked the audience. "Young students should not have to pay to play sports."

His comments on educational policy resonated with the crowd, which was packed with high school students and parents.

Bob Ricket, 45, said he was encouraged by Mr. Edwards' message on education.

His daughter, Jamie Ricket, 17, is a senior at Mentor High School.

"We need more funding," he said. "It makes it hard for the school system to function."

Mr. Madden said President Bush's administration has funded education at "historic levels."

"Politicians like John Kerry and John Edwards like to talk about education, but both haven't delivered," Mr. Madden said. "President Bush has delivered."

Many in attendance said they were excited that Mr. Edwards chose to visit Mentor.

Mr. Edwards appearance began at about 2:45 p.m., at the end of the school day. Many students stuck around to hear him speak.

Alex Puglis, 17, said it was a "unique experience" for the school to host a vice-presidential candidate in the final month of the campaign.

"This election has been so important in the school," she said.

"It is really bringing out the politics."

Contact Steve Eder at:

seder@theblade.com

or (419) 724-6728.



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