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Retired Gen. Tommy Franks knows something about managing a battleground state.
And yesterday, Mr. Franks, former head of U.S. Central Command, found himself in the midst of a political battlefield fighting for votes for President Bush during a rally in Toledo.
The retired four-star general and leader in the war on terrorism told veterans at the downtown SeaGate Centre that the nation needs a leader like Mr. Bush, rather than a "misleader" such as Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.
Mr. Franks spoke yesterday morning after Mr. Kerry addressed supporters just a few miles away in Toledo - the place many are calling the epicenter of this battleground state.
"I'm not a politician, but I know what a commander in chief looks like, and there is only one on the ballot," Mr. Franks said as he voiced his support for Mr. Bush.
Mr. Franks, who retired in August, 2003, after leading troops in the war in Iraq, criticized Mr. Kerry's history on defense and foreign policy, saying, "When you look at those characteristics, you want a leader, not a misleader."
He pointed to Mr. Kerry's attacks about 380 tons of missing munitions in Iraq as a prime example of Mr. Kerry's distortion of the facts.
"Let me tell you what I know," he said. "Our forces serving in Iraq have cleaned more than 10,000 munitions sites."
Brendon Cull, a spokesman for Ohio Democratic Coordinated Campaign, said the comments by Mr. Franks are "misguided" and "wrong."
"John Kerry's criticism of Bush's handling of the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism is something that is entirely appropriate," Mr. Cull said. "On Nov. 2, the people of Ohio will make a decision about what direction the country will go in."
Bill Fisher, a veteran from Waterville, said Mr. Franks was straight-forward
"He tells it like it is," Mr. Fisher said. "He's a man anyone could be proud of and believe in, instead of the rhetoric we are hearing from the other side."
Sandra Brasington, of Toledo, said Mr. Franks drove home the point that freedom isn't free. Her son, Tommy, 26, is serving in Iraq, and her husband is a veteran.
"He really gave the facts," she said.