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Inside Politics

Bush begins important month with heartland trip

President tells supporters Kerry has 'very few signature achievements'


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President Bush holds a campaign rally in Springfield, Missouri.

CNN's Kathleen Koch on President Bush's return to the stump.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux on Bush and the battleground states.

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SPRINGFIELD, Missouri (CNN) -- A day after John Kerry's acceptance speech at the Democratic convention, President Bush began a monthlong push to his party's event with a visit to America's heartland.

At a Republican rally in Springfield, Bush defended his record in office, took shots at Kerry and underlined his conservative views and values.

Bush told cheering supporters Friday that "there'll be big differences in this campaign. They're going to raise your taxes; we're not.

"We have a clear vision on how to win the war on terror and bring peace to the world," Bush said. "They somehow believe the heart and soul of America can be found in Hollywood. The heart and soul of America is found right here in Springfield, Missouri."

Friday's events began the countdown by the Bush campaign leading up to the Republican National Convention in New York. He also visited Michigan and Ohio.

Nicolle Devenish, the Bush campaign's communications director, said the president will pivot away from tough rhetoric against Democratic candidate Kerry and focus more on "laying out a vision" for the next four years.

"Strategically, it is an important month for us," said Devenish, who said this has been a long-planned strategy.

"We started the campaign by talking about what the country has been through, the war on terror and the economy, and now we'll talk about the vision for the next four years and the difference in visions for the future."

Bush's new refrain will be "we've turned a corner, and we're not turning back," Devenish said.

Kerry used the refrain "Help is on the way," in his acceptance speech Thursday night. He also said he would have a different foreign policy than Bush.

"I will be a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war," Kerry said.

Bush socked back at the Kerry-John Edwards ticket and the Democrats, saying Kerry has "good intentions, but intentions do not always translate to results."

"After 19 years in the United States Senate, my opponent has had thousands of votes but very few signature achievements."

"He and his running mate consistently opposed reforms that limit the power of Washington and leave more power in the hands of the people," Bush said. "He's spent nearly 20 years in the federal government, and it appears he's concluded that it's just not big enough. He's proposed more than $2 trillion of additional federal spending."

Bush said he has achieved:

  • An education policy that has improved reading and math skills.
  • Prescription drug care coverage that had been promised for years.
  • Better health care centers for low-income Americans along with new tax-free savings plans.
  • Success in building military alliances while taking charge of national security decisions.
  • Bush asserted that while more has to be done to improve the economy, the country has overcome the terror strikes, corporate scandals and recession because of tax cuts and the "hard work and will" of Americans.

    "We gave tax relief to every American who pays taxes. We didn't play favorites with the tax code," he said, and maintained that ending the "junk lawsuits that hurt our small business" will keep jobs from heading overseas.

    Kerry has said one of Bush's failings is the failure to amass support from other nations on Iraq.

    Bush also said he agreed with the conclusion of the 9/11 commission when it said "our homeland is safer but we are not yet safe."

    Along with the small government theme, Bush also espoused more traditional rhetoric on subjects including abortion, religious values and government, heterosexual marriage and conservative judges.


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