Bush Suggests Missile Defense Opponents Jeopardizing Country's Safety
Continuing his tour of swing states, President Bush yesterday traveled to a Boeing factory in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, where he promoted his plans to build a missile defense system. While the Washington Post headlined its story "Bush Assails Kerry on Missile Defense," the President in fact did not mention Sen. Kerry by name, though he did say opponents of missile defense "don't understand the threats of the 21st century" and are "living in the past," adding, "We're going to do what's necessary to protect this country." The story received no coverage from the network news shows, but got plenty of attention from local TV newscasts in swing states.
The Philadelphia Inquirer describes Bush's remarks as "off-the-cuff," and reports the President addressed "several thousand Republican party loyalists and Boeing Company workers" with his "sleeves rolled up and his jacket off." According to the Delaware County Daily Times, the official Secret Service count "had the crowd at approximately 8,000," but Boeing spokesman Jack Satterfield "said that Boeing alone had given out almost 9,000 tickets for the event." Boeing workers "were given a paid day off in honor of the presidential visit." The Daily Times also notes that despite "a better than 2-to-1 Republican voter registration edge, Democrats have won Delaware County in each of the past three presidential elections." Clearly, reported Fox News' Special Report, "the purpose of the President's trip was to make sure he is on the minds of the voters in Pennsylvania, a key battleground in the presidential race, as he noted, this was his 32nd visit to the state." According to CNN's Inside Politics, the latest public polls "show that the state of Pennsylvania is trending towards John Kerry. And the Kerry campaign, talking to aides, they say they feel pretty good about the way Pennsylvania is going, that they feel that they're up. . .according to their internal polling. Talking to a senior Bush aide, they say their internal polls show a dead heat here in Pennsylvania."
The Los Angeles Times reports on Kerry's stance on missile defense, noting the senator "has said he does not oppose a missile defense system in theory, but has questioned the priority the Bush administration has put on it. Kerry has said other steps such as adding 40,000 troops to the military and improving US intelligence-gathering are more important to combat the threats facing America." Rand Beers, the senator's top national security advisor, accused the White House on Tuesday of a "near obsession" with developing a missile defense program. Reuters, in fact, reports that if Kerry "becomes president he could cut up to a third of the annual $10 billion in spending on missile defenses, but overall defense expenditure would stay high, analysts said this week."
Bush Serves Dig At Kerry Over Cheesesteak Faux Pas.
A Knight Ridder story reports that Bush told the crowd In Ridley Park, "You know, this is my 32nd visit to your state," adding, "A lot of people are wondering why I'm coming so much. It ought to be obvious to you I like my cheesesteak 'whiz with.'" That "would be local shorthand for 'Cheez Whiz, with onions' and a dig at Democratic challenger John Kerry, who last year passed through Philadelphia and ordered a cheesesteak with Swiss cheese, a local faux pas."
After Pennsylvania, Bush Touts Accomplishments In West Virginia Rally.
After his visit to Ridley Park, the President traveled to Hedgesville, WV, where according to the Wheeling Intelligencer he "stood before a boisterous crowd of up to 10,000 strong on a platform behind Hedgesville High School and asked members to return him to the White House to finish the job he'd begun 3 1/2 years ago." Bush's message in West Virginia was "America must put somebody in the White House who can get the job done,'" an "oft-used refrain he used throughout the wide-ranging speech in defense of his record." In his remarks, Bush cited "personal health care accounts, prescription drug cards and community health centers in health care and the passing of the No Child Left Behind Act in education as evidence of his accomplishments in office."