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Published: Friday, 10/22/2004

Cheney mocks 'October disguise' in assailing Kerry on gun rights

BY RYAN E. SMITH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Vice President Dick Cheney wasn't the one with a shotgun yesterday, but that didn't stop him from firing some political blasts at presidential hopeful John Kerry during a visit to Sylvania.

"I understand Sen. John Kerry is in Ohio today, too," Mr. Cheney said.

"The senator who gets a grade of 'F' from the National Rifle Association went hunting this morning."

But the new camouflage jacket that Mr. Kerry wore during his hunting trip near Youngstown was nothing more than another part of his "October disguise" to hide his record, including votes against gun owner rights, the vice president told a crowd of about 2,000 at the Tam-O-Shanter field house on Sylvania Avenue.

"My fellow sportsmen, this cover-up isn't going to work because you and I know the Second Amendment is more than just a photo opportunity," he said.

Mr. Cheney used the rally as an opportunity to talk about the differences between President Bush and Mr. Kerry. He called Mr. Bush "a man of loyalty and kindness who speaks plainly and means what he says," in contrast to his opponent, "a man who will say and do anything if he thinks it will advance his cause."

He portrayed the President as tough on terrorism and willing to lead rather than tying the nation's actions to other countries.

"We know that it is not our job to conduct international opinion polls. Our job is to defend America," said Mr. Cheney, who made previous stops this year in Fulton County and the Medical College of Ohio.

Lynne Cheney, the vice president's wife, used her introduction of her husband as an opportunity to bring up the security issue as well.

"You know the terrorists will try to come after us again. They'll try," she said. "And I say to myself, you know, who do I want standing in the doorway protecting us when that happens? And it is not John Kerry and it's not John Edwards."

Brendon Cull, Democratic spokesman in Ohio, said that Mr. Cheney's comments were nothing but a distortion.

"Dick Cheney's in a fit right now because he knows that John Kerry is a hunter and a sportsman and a strong defender of the Second Amendment," he said.

He said Ohio and the rest of the nation are ready for a change.

"John Kerry's going to focus like a laser on the war on terror, and he's going to win the war," Mr. Cull said. "Ohio's ready for a change. They're tired of Dick Cheney's negative attacks."

Ohio and its 20 electoral votes have been targeted lately by numerous campaign events. Mr. Cheney and his wife were in the state on a bus tour earlier in the week, and Mr. Bush will be in Canton today.

In addition to the hunting expedition yesterday, Mr. Kerry spoke in Columbus; his running mate, John Edwards, spoke in northeast Ohio Wednesday and will be back in the state next week, including a planned event Monday in Toledo.

Looking out into the crowd yesterday, Mr. Cheney spoke with confidence, standing in a blue shirt and red tie in front of a giant reproduction of an Ohio license plate bearing the letters "VICTORY."

"I can see from the enthusiasm here today that Sylvania is Bush-Cheney country," he said.

Bernadette Noe, chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party, said it was a great start to the campaign's home stretch, especially "seeing thousands of people that I haven't ever met before all cheering for the Bush-Cheney ticket."

All the talk of homeland security resonated with audience members like James Ferrella, a 79-year-old World War II veteran who served in the South Pacific and stood for three hours to hear the vice president yesterday.

"We've got to get through that war in Iraq," the West Toledo man said. "We can't depend upon any other nation to help us."

Darlene Ruth of Metamora brought two of her children, ages 8 and 4, to the rally to teach them the importance of taking part in the political process. Two issues that concerned her were security and protecting the sanctity of life. "I thought it was great," she said, as her kids walked around holding red, white, and blue balloons. "I want a safe country."

Contact Ryan E. Smith at:

ryansmith@theblade.com

or 419-724-6103.



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