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Schwarzenegger to appear with Bush in Ohio

President heading to New Hampshire for two campaign stops


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Bob Dole, left, and Gen. Tommy Franks, right, join Bush on stage at a campaign rally in Westlake, Ohio.
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(CNN) -- President Bush will court New Hampshire voters Friday before returning to Ohio with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at his side.

After making two speeches in Portsmouth and Manchester, Bush will speak tonight in the battleground state of Ohio, where Schwarzenegger has well-known business interests including the Arnold Classic bodybuilding competition in Columbus.

The film star and former Mr. Universe, a moderate Republican, spoke in August at the Republican National Convention. However, he has remained relatively uninvolved with campaigning for Bush in battleground states during recent months.

On Thursday, Bush swung through key battleground states, trumpeting his status as a leader and blasting Democratic rival John Kerry as someone who "rarely takes a stand."

"A president cannot blow in the wind. A president has to make tough decisions and stand by them," Bush told a crowd of thousands of enthusiastic supporters in Westlake, Ohio.

"That is how I have led our country and that is how I will continue to lead our country for four more years."

Bush urged the crowd to rally their friends and get them to the voting booths Tuesday. (Showdown state Ohio)

"When you get them headed to the polls, tell them that if they want a safer America, a stronger America and a better America, to put me and Dick Cheney back in office," he said.

The president then took a jab at Kerry, saying he consistently changes positions and has been weak on defense matters during his 20 years as the junior senator from Massachusetts.

"Senator Kerry has taken a lot of different positions, but he rarely takes a stand," Bush said. "I think it's safe to say consistency has not been the senator's strong suit."

The speech was Bush's second of the day in Ohio, a swing state where polls show Bush and Kerry running neck-and-neck.

Bush was introduced to the Westlake crowd by Gen. Tommy Franks, the former head of the U.S. Central Command who led the nation's troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Franks praised Bush as a leader and attacked Kerry for his criticisms of the administration's handling of the wars.

"I don't know Senator Kerry's plan for victory," Franks said. "I don't know what it is, but I do know -- but I do know -- that his criticism of military conduct on our global war on terrorism denigrates, disrespects our troops.

"I also know he cannot lead troops to victory in a war when he has made it perfectly clear that he does not support the cause."

Earlier Thursday, Bush traveled to the battleground state of Michigan, where polls also show an extremely tight race just five days before the election.

In that speech, Bush also hit home his theme of Kerry having a weak record and lack of conviction. (Showdown state Michigan)

"What does that lack of conviction signal to our enemies? That if you make things uncomfortable, if you stir up trouble, John Kerry will back off? That's a very dangerous signal to send during this time," Bush said.

The president also responded to Kerry's attacks for the past four days about the 380 tons of explosives reported by the Iraqi interim government as missing from a munitions depot near Baghdad.

Kerry has faulted the administration for not assigning troops to protect such sensitive weapons storage sites. (Mystery of missing explosives continues)

"Senator Kerry is again attacking the actions of our military in Iraq with complete disregard for the facts," Bush said.

"His own advisers admitted that he didn't know what had happened. His spokesman has now had to acknowledge that the explosives may have been moved before our troops arrived." (Kerry slams Bush on missing Iraqi explosives)

For the Bush campaign, Thursday marked a day in which power campaigners were on the road for the president.

In addition to Franks, Bush's father, the first President Bush, appeared in Los Alamos, New Mexico, along with the president's twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara. (Showdown state New Mexico)


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