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Bush, Kerry get support from swing-state newspapers

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(CNN) -- Newspapers in several states that could win or lose the election for either President Bush or Sen. John Kerry endorsed the candidates on Sunday, some of them providing surprises.

The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch gave Bush the nod. "A victory for Bush will signal to the world and terrorists that the United States is committed to victory in Iraq and Afghanistan," the paper's editors wrote. "A Kerry victory will send an ambiguous signal that may raise doubts about American staying power."

The Dispatch, which traditionally supports the Republican ticket, said it was "less than enthused" about the choice between Bush and Kerry, but concluded that Bush "would stand a better chance of leading the nation up the difficult road that lies ahead."

The paper also slammed the invasion of Iraq, which it "strongly opposed."

On Saturday, the president also received backing from The Cincinnati (Ohio) Post.

Bush and Kerry are virtually tied in polls of likely voters in Ohio, which has 20 electoral votes and is seen as a possible key to any victory in the presidential race. (Showdown state Ohio) ('s Poll Tracker)

In other battleground states, Kerry picked up endorsements on Sunday from The Des Moines Register in Iowa, and surprisingly Florida's Orlando Sentinel, which had backed Bush in 2000.

Bush "has disappointed us on almost all counts," the Sentinel editors wrote. Florida's 27 electoral votes are among the nation's most valuable in the presidential race. (Showdown state Florida)

The Orlando paper's switch mirrored The Chicago Sun-Times, which threw its support to Kerry -- four years after the Illinois paper backed Bush. "The course America is on feels wrong," the paper said, praising Kerry's "thirst for information, his ability to judge situations on their merits."

The Sun-Times editors said, "we became concerned by the secrecy of [Bush's] subordinates such as Dick Cheney and John Ashcroft, coupled with an unnecessary disregard for some of our most cherished civil liberties."

Last week, the Chicago Tribune announced it was backing Bush.

Newspapers in other swing states -- Colorado and Pennsylvania -- also backed Bush this weekend.

"On Sept. 11, 2001, this country accepted a great challenge -- to inflict justice on terrorists who would attack us and to take every reasonable step to protect our homeland," editors of The Denver Post wrote. "The task has been pursued with dogged resolution, and we think President Bush is best suited to continue the fight." (Showdown state Colorado)

The Express-Times, of Easton, Pennsylvania, said it endorsed Bush because, "In a new American experience in which our vulnerabilities are on constant display, our nation's security is paramount. Kerry's strategy just doesn't measure up. Now is not the time to back away from the fight. Or the president." (Showdown state Pennsylvania)

Kerry was endorsed Sunday by one the nation's most prominent papers, The Washington Post, which praised his "resoluteness tempered by wisdom and open-mindedness." The Post, the nation's fifth largest newspaper, condemned Bush's "cocksureness."

In the battleground state of Wisconsin, both Kerry and Bush won newspaper endorsements.

Oshkosh Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wisconsin., endorsed Bush on Friday: "Bush may have room for improvement, but the sitting president is always an easy target. What he has going for him is four years of a track record of acting as he promised he would. It's rare in a politician. But it's crucial for a president."

Bush also got a thumbs up from The Gazette of Janesville, Wisconsin.

Kerry won backing from The Journal Times of Racine, Wisconsin, and the Wausau Daily Herald, which offered a less-than-glowing endorsement.

"In many cases we've been disappointed by Kerry's lack of specifics or his promises to cure all our ills by repealing the tax cuts for the wealthy," the paper's editors wrote. "We've weighed those disappointments against our dismay over Bush's failings." (Showdown state Wisconsin)

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