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Published: Wednesday, 10/20/2004

Kerry blames Bush for Ohio's job woes

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

DAYTON - Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry rallied on the grass of a minor- league baseball field last night, hoping Ohio will hit an Electoral College home run for him on Nov. 2.

In Montgomery County, where the unemployment rate hovers closer to the Ohio average of 6.3 percent than to the national average of 5.3 percent, the Massachusetts senator repeatedly hammered President Bush on jobs, health insurance, and the war in Iraq.

"Fourteen days to exercise the vote that is the envy of people all over the planet,'' he told a crowd of more than 10,000. "All of our dreams are on that ballot," he said at Dayton's Fifth Third Field, home of the Dragons.

"Social Security is on that ballot,'' he said "Health care is on that ballot. Your children are on that ballot.''

The Ohio Poll, released yesterday by the University of Cincinnati, had Mr. Kerry leading Mr. Bush 48 percent to 46 percent, still a statistical tie.

Mr. Bush won Ohio by 3.5 percentage points over Al Gore in 2000 but narrowly lost Montgomery County. Mr. Kerry hopes his message of rolling back Mr. Bush's tax cuts for those earning more than $200,000 a year to help pay for expanded health- care coverage, reducing the budget deficit, and an increase in the minimum wage will translate into victory in a state that has lost 230,000 jobs in four years.

"We added more to the debt of this nation in four years than we added from George Washington through Ronald Reagan,'' he said. "And they call themselves conservative? That's radical, ladies and gentlemen. That's the most radical economic policy I've ever heard of."

Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, in Columbus yesterday, noted the race is tight in Minnesota, Iowa, New Mexico, and Wisconsin, all states Mr. Bush lost in 2000.

"When you look at Senator Kerry's record in support of the Kyoto Treaty on global warning, his support for a higher average fuel-economy mandate on the auto industry, so important in Ohio, [and] his opposition to clean-coal technology, this is a state at the end of the day that is going to realize that President Bush is the one who is going to continue to foster economic growth,'' he said. "John Kerry's policies would kill jobs here."

Earlier in the day in Pennsylvania, Mr. Kerry claimed a second Bush term would be the beginning of privatization of Society Security, a claim Republicans swiftly denied.

Except for criticism of the war in Iraq, last night's speech in Dayton was all about the middle class and the economy. Mr. Kerry made one passing reference to Social Security during the rally.

Vice President Dick Cheney toured southern Ohio yesterday and will visit Lucas County tomorrow, as Mr. Kerry visits the Youngstown area and Columbus. John Edwards will tour eastern Ohio today, and Mr. Bush is expected to talk about medical malpractice litigation reform and health care in a return visit to Canton Friday.

Contact Jim Provance at:

jprovance@theblade.com

or 614-221-0496.



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