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Hel'n
10-22-2004, 08:08 PM
Campaigns seek to sway voters in tightly contested states
Friday, October 22, 2004 Posted: 8:47 PM EDT (0047 GMT)

WILKES-BARRE, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- President Bush and Sen. John Kerry are making new efforts Friday to clarify their positions in showdown states that could tip the election.

Eleven days before the November 2 election, Kerry focused on female voters, and Bush introduced a new stump speech that delineated five distinctions his campaign wishes to make between himself and his Democratic rival.

Bush, at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, said the election "comes down to five clear choices for the American families, five choices on issues of great consequence: your family's security, your budget, your quality of life, your retirement and the bedrock vales that are so critical to our families and our future."

At a rally in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Kerry challenged Bush's understanding of what Americans need.

No matter how hard women work at their jobs and at home, he said, "no one in this White House understands the challenges that they face. No matter how tough it gets, no one in the White House seems to be listening."

The three states Bush is visiting Friday have a total of 68 electoral votes up for grabs and electorates that are nearly evenly divided, according to polls. (Special Report: America Votes 2004, Showdown States)

Bush's campaign stops in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida come three days after Kerry toured each of those states. (Showdown states Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida)

Nationally, an average of 10 polls shows the race to be too close to call, with Bush edging out Kerry by just 3 percentage points, well within the margin of error of each poll.

On Friday, Kerry is visiting Wisconsin and Nevada, two swing states where polls show him narrowly trailing Bush. (Showdown states Wisconsin, Nevada)

The senator from Massachusetts lost ground among female voters last month, according to polls, and he's working in the closing days of the campaign to court their vote. (Special Report: America Votes 2004, Poll Tracker)

Kerry was introduced in Milwaukee by Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, daughter of President John F. Kennedy.

The Democratic presidential nominee has been seeking to gain a strong lead among female voters. Men more often vote Republican, while women more often side with Democrats. Vice President Al Gore had an 11-point advantage among women in the 2000 race.

After the Wisconsin event, Kerry had stops planned in what was once solid GOP territory -- Nevada and Colorado. Both states went to Bush in 2000 but have emerged as swing states in this year's race.

Bush had stops in Ohio and Florida.

The Ohio visit was his first to that swing state in nearly three weeks. Kerry has visited five times during that same period.

About 200,000 jobs have been lost in Ohio during Bush's tenure.

Bush senior adviser Karl Rove said the president will have seven more stops in Ohio before Election Day.

While the battle raged at rallies, there was also a new salvo on television, with the release of a Bush-Cheney ad showing wolves roaming through the woods, waiting to attack.

The ad accuses Kerry "and the liberals in Congress" of voting to cut intelligence operations after "the first terrorist attack on America," a reference to the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.

"Weakness attracts those who are waiting to do America harm," the ad says.

The Kerry campaign struck back, calling the Bush campaign "desperate."

"These are desperate days for the Bush campaign with the president's job approval in the danger zone," Kerry campaign spokesman Chad Clanton said in a written statement, referring to polls that have shown Bush's approval rating below 50 percent. "They are desperately using the politics of fear to try and distract from President Bush's failed record on the economy and Iraq."

Weekend stops
Bush is scheduled to speak Saturday at four rallies in Florida, on his 32nd visit to the state.

He will begin in Fort Myers before heading to Lakeland, Melbourne and Jacksonville. He plans to spend the night at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Kerry has a rally planned in Pueblo, Colorado, in the morning. He will then travel to Las Cruces, New Mexico, for an afternoon rally. He then will fly to Florida, where he'll spend the night.

Other developments

A coalition of the 10 largest American-Muslim organizations is calling for a protest vote against Bush and cautiously endorsing Kerry for president. "In careful consideration of overall U.S. interest and the Muslim community's cares and concerns, as well as thoughtful interactions with various presidential campaigns, the American Political Task Force Political Action Committee is calling on Muslim-Americans and other pro-civil liberties groups to cast a protest vote by providing qualified support to Senator John Kerry," said Agha Saeed, chairman of the task force.

http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/10/22/election.main/