ZANESVILLE, Ohio - Vice President Dick Cheney remained on the attack yesterday, getting roars of approval from a crowd of 500 as he hammered John Kerry on gun rights, partial-birth abortion, taxes, and the war on terror.
By JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU
But the most enthusiastic response from this ticket-only crowd came when he fell back on a line that is a staple of his 30-minute stump speech, arguing that Mr. Kerry can't remake his Senate voting record.
"As we say in Wyoming, you can put all the lipstick you want on a pig, but at the end of the day, it's still a pig," he said to loud laughter.
"That's my favorite line," he said. "You want to hear it again?" And he repeated it to the same reaction.
Three days before a highly divided Ohio electorate goes to the polls, and helps decides for the nation whether George W. Bush gets another four years, his second in command rallied in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Iowa. Of these battleground states, only Ohio backed Mr. Bush in 2000.
Muskingum County handed Mr. Bush 57 percent of the vote to Al Gore's 43 percent in 2000. But the county's unemployment rate in September was 12.6 percent, more than twice the state average of 6 percent and well above the national average of 5.4 percent.
"John Kerry has a life-long record of fighting for the American people," Kerry spokesman Brendon Cull said. "The only record the American people are concerned about right now is the record of George Bush and Dick Cheney, and that record is one of lost jobs, lost health care, and a failed effort in securing the peace in Iraq."
Mr. Cheney blasted Mr. Kerry for not voting for an $87 billion bill to continue the war effort in Iraq and for raising the specter of a return of a military draft, something the Bush administration has vehemently denied.
"John Kerry harps away at phony charges," Mr. Cheney said. "He says we didn't put sufficient emphasis on destroying weapons in Iraq when in fact our troops have seized and destroyed 4,000 tons of munitions.
"He says we took our eye off the ball in Tora Bora [in the search for Osama bin Laden], a charge that Gen. Tommy Franks, who commanded our forces, has totally refuted," he said. "Given a choice between John Kerry's position and that of Gen. Tommy Franks, I'll go with the general anytime."
He made one passing reference to Friday's release of a bin Laden video in which the terrorist leader behind the 9/11 attacks tries to inject himself into the Nov. 2 election.
"It's a reminder that we are engaged in a global war on terror," Mr. Cheney said. "This is a conflict we did not choose, but it's one that we will win."
Jonathan Brown of Zanesville, a Bush supporter, said he realized reaction to the tape could cut either way. "People could go for Bush, because they think he'd be the one to protect them," he said. "At the same time, I could see why others might say, 'Why didn't we get this guy? Bush didn't get this guy'. "
Contact Jim Provance at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-221-0496.