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Inside Politics

Bush, Kerry campaign in battleground states

Democratic nominee, president both speak in Pennsylvania

Kerry and Edwards are heading west.

Fans, a few protesters greet Bush in Ohio.

Bush on the trail in battleground states.
CNN/Money: Bush to project record budget deficit
• The Candidates: Bush | Kerry
George W. Bush
John F. Kerry

CANTON, Ohio (CNN) -- In the first weekend of a new phase of the presidential race, President Bush took aim at the central arguments Sen. John Kerry laid out at the Democratic National Convention, while Kerry sought to rebut Bush's new campaign slogan.

The new strategies and counter-strategies were in full swing as Kerry and Bush battled in key battleground states. Bush had stops scheduled in Ohio and Pennsylvania, while Kerry stumped in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Both campaigns have busy schedules leading up to the Republican National Convention, which begins August 30.

"We are turning the corner, and we are not turning back," Bush repeatedly promised supporters at a rally in Canton, in references to education, health care, national security and the economy.

His campaign unveiled the theme Friday, and Saturday the Kerry campaign swung back.

"Let me ask you: If you're one of those 44 million Americans who doesn't have any health insurance, and you have no prospect of buying it, are you turning the corner?" Kerry asked a crowd Saturday in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

"If you're one of those people who has a job that pays $9,000 less than the jobs that we've lost overseas, are we turning the corner for those folks? If you're one of those senior citizens who has to cut a pill in half ... are you turning the corner?"

Although Kerry insists he'll win in Pennsylvania -- his wife, Teresa, is a popular political figure in the state and the widow of Sen. John Heinz, a popular Republican -- Bush has strong support there.

Polls show voters in Ohio are split as well. Bush barely won there in 2000, and the state has been particularly hard-hit by job losses.

Bush acknowledged that economic recovery "lags in places like eastern Ohio. I know that. I'm aware of that. ... We must have a president who understands that in order to keep jobs at home, America must be the best place to do business.

"To keep American jobs in America, our regulations must be reasonable and fair," Bush said. "To keep American jobs in America, we must end the junk lawsuits that hurt our business and employers. If you want to keep jobs in America, the government must not overspend your money, and the government must keep taxes low."

Bush argued that Kerry will raise taxes on the middle class. Although the senator from Massachusetts has repeatedly insisted he will roll back Bush's tax cut only for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, Bush insisted, "you know who 'the rich' is. They got accountants. It means you pay."

He vowed that if re-elected, "After four more years, there will be better-paying jobs in America. After four more years, there will be more small businesses. After four more years, the American economy will continue to be the strongest in the world."

Bush also repeated another mantra, saying that as a result of his presidency, "America and the world are safer."

Kerry, at the rally in Greensburg, discussed his vision of a "stronger America" and a nation that is "respected abroad."

Standing in front of his familial entourage, Kerry emphasized his main campaign themes. They include his experience as a veteran, his guarantee not to "mislead" the nation, his commitment to restoring international alliances and his vow to achieve economic equality.

At one point, he addressed a group of nearby demonstrators calling for greater focus on the global epidemic of AIDS.

"I just want to acknowledge that John Edwards and I are committed to what you're committed to," he said, referring to his vice presidential pick, before citing his work on legislation to deal with the epidemic. He vowed that as president he would "lead in the moral way that we ought to" to face such challenges.

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