By JAMES DREW
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF
"I saw that there's a new Osama bin Laden tape. Let me be very clear about something. Democrats, Republicans, independents, all Americans, we're united and we have a clear message for Osama bin Laden.
"We're going to find you, we're going to hunt you down, and we will hold you responsible for what happened on Sept. 11," said Mr. Edwards, who spoke at the Ohio National Guard Armory where the Northwest Territory Militia was formed in 1788.
A former plaintiff's attorney who was elected in 1998 to the U.S. Senate from North Carolina, Mr. Edwards then jumped into a 15-minute speech in which he pilloried President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney while making the case for Mr. Kerry, a four-term U.S. Senator from Massachusetts.
"John Kerry has fought for people like you and the middle class in this country his entire life. He took bullets for this country when he didn't have to. He stood as a prosecutor protecting communities from crime; for 20 years in the United States Senate he was a champion every day for working, middle-class families. For the last four months, I have fought alongside John Kerry. There is nobody you would rather be in a foxhole with than John Kerry," he said.
Mr. Edwards said the "American dream" is on the ballot.
"I want you to assume you go in the morning to vote and you just dropped the kids off at school and you're late to work, and your car is about to run out of gas. You walk in to vote and you're in a hurry and you want to make the right choice. So you ask yourself, 'Over the course of the last four years, has my price at the pump gone up? Has the price of college gone up? Is George Bush ever going to do anything about this? Do I want four more years of the same?' " Mr. Edwards said, as about 1,000 listeners shouted "No."
"Suppose you go in at lunch time. You've come from the doctor and you have a prescription slip in your hand, and you need to get it filled. But before you do that, you want to vote. You go in, but you're in a hurry and you want to make the right choice. And so you ask yourself, 'Over the last four years, have prescription-drug costs skyrocketed? Have my health insurance premiums gone up? Have drug-company profits gone up? Is George Bush ever going to do anything about this?" Mr. Edwards said as the audience shouted "No."
Kevin Madden, a spokesman for Mr. Bush's campaign, said: "John Kerry and John Edwards have demonstrated there is a canyon of credibility between what they say and what they do. Their record as two of the most liberal members of the U.S. Senate is entirely out of step with the values and priorities of the people of Ohio.
"John Kerry and John Edwards have never missed a chance to vote against the best interests of Ohio. Their dismal record on taxes, their hostility toward the Second Amendment rights of Ohioans, and their extreme defense of horrific procedures like partial-birth abortion are all instances where John Kerry and John Edwards put their liberal politics ahead of mainstream Ohio principles," he said.
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MARIETTA, Ohio - John Edwards yesterday offered a spirited closing argument on why voters should elect John Kerry Tuesday, but he opened with a message for Osama bin Laden.