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Bush, Kerry trade barbs on Iraq explosives

Springsteen joins Democrat; Schwarzenegger to help president

Bruce Springsteen joins Kerry Thursday in Madison, Wisconsin.
The more things change ...: Powell on Bush foreign policy
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CNN's Tom Foreman on the possibility of an Electoral College tie.

CNN's John King on Bush and the missing explosives issue.

CNN's Candy Crowley on Kerry's offensive on the trail.
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• Showdown states: Ohio
George W. Bush
John F. Kerry
America Votes 2004

(CNN) -- President Bush and Sen. John Kerry exchanged sharp attacks Thursday as they continued their marathon treks across key showdown states five days before the election.

The two men again traded barbs over the report of 380 tons of missing explosives in Iraq, a issue that has dominated the debate for much of the week.

Bush told a crowd in Saginaw, Michigan, that Kerry was "attacking the actions of our military in Iraq with complete disregard for the facts."

"The senator's willingness to trade principle for political convenience makes it clear that John Kerry is the wrong man for the wrong job at the wrong time," the president said to rousing cheers from the audience, making a play on a line the Democrat has used to criticize the president's handling of the Iraq war.

In Toledo, Ohio, Kerry countered by saying that Bush was making excuses for not ordering troops to guard the weapons depot after international inspectors warned about its contents.

Kerry also used a Bush campaign line, telling the crowd that the president had jumped to conclusions about Saddam Hussein's connection to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

"I'm going to apply the Bush standard to this: Yesterday ... George Bush said and I quote him: 'A political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief when it comes to your security.' Well, Mr. President, I agree with you."

Star power on the stump

The presidential candidates will be leaning on star power over the next few days as they continue to stump in battleground states.

Former President Bill Clinton will join Kerry on Friday for a three-day campaign swing. Bush will travel Friday with his party's biggest celebrity -- California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Blue-collar rocker Bruce Springsteen joined Kerry on the campaign trail Thursday.

For months, Springsteen's "No Surrender" anthem has been played prominently at rallies for Kerry and running mate John Edwards.

Springsteen performed the song at a rally in Madison, Wisconsin, before introducing Kerry to the crowd. (Special report: America Votes 2004)

Springsteen later performed at a rally for Kerry in Columbus, Ohio.

Kerry opened the Toledo rally Thursday morning wearing a Boston Red Sox cap to celebrate his hometown team's World Series victory. (Red Sox sweep away curse)

That event was followed by the stop in Madison, Wisconsin, before the final event -- with Springsteen again -- in Ohio. The Democrat then flew to Florida for the night. (Showdown states Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida)

After opening the day with the rally in Saginaw, Bush visited Ohio for two stops. His last rally of the day was at a farm in Yardley, Pennsylvania. (Showdown states Michigan, Pennsylvania)

Schwarzenegger will campaign with Bush in Columbus on Friday. (Schwarzenegger to campaign with Bush)

Race remains close

The race remains too close for either party to feel confident, with Bush holding a 2 percentage point lead over Kerry, according to CNN's average of six national polls. (Special Report: America Votes 2004, Poll tracker)

The average has Bush at 49 percent and Kerry at 47 percent.

Polls also indicated the race to be close in several key states Wednesday.

The candidates were practically tied among voters interviewed in Florida, Hawaii, Minnesota and Ohio.

Polls in Michigan, New Hampshire and New Jersey indicated respondents were leaning toward Kerry, but the race remained extremely tight.

Bush had a narrow lead among voters interviewed in Arkansas, Iowa, New Mexico and Wisconsin.

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