Bush: America won't be intimidated by terrorists
'I am confident we will prevail,' president says
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TOLEDO, Ohio (CNN) -- Reacting to the broadcast of a videotaped message from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on Friday, President Bush vowed that the American people will not be "intimidated" by terrorists.
"Let me make this very clear -- Americans will not be intimidated or influenced by an enemy of our country," Bush said at the airport in Toledo after a campaign stop. "I'm sure Senator Kerry agrees with this."
"I also want to say to the American people that we are at war with these terrorists, and I am confident we will prevail."
Earlier Friday, Bush told a crowd at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, "In the final four days of this historic campaign, I'm taking my vision of a more hopeful America directly to the people of this country."
Bush took a break from his relentless attacks on Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry, focusing instead on broad messages and stepping back from some of the tactics that have filled campaign speeches in recent days.
In his speech in Manchester, Bush did not mention his opponent by name, but his arguments referred back to his previous depictions of Kerry as a "flip-flopper."
"I have learned a president must base decisions on principle, core convictions from which you will never waver," he said. "The issues vary, the challenges are different every day, the polls go up, the polls go down, but a president's convictions must be consistent and true."
He added, "Freedom is on the march, and America and the world are more secure. Our strategy to win the war on terror is succeeding."
He also said his economic policies "are working."
But Bush's speech -- billed by White House spokesman Scott McClellan as "new" and "unique" -- was beset by several mishaps.
First, Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who was set to join Bush, backed out.
Fresh from a historic World Series victory in which he pitched with an injured ankle, Schilling said in a message to a fan Web site that his doctors did not want him to attend -- and that he regretted having volunteered his support for Bush during a television interview.
"While I hope to see him re-elected, it's not my place, nor the time, for me to offer up my political opinions unsolicited. I am proud we have the right to vote, and the message I wanted to send, but didn't, was that regardless of who you are voting for, the bottom line is that you must vote," Schilling said in the message posted on BostonDirtDogs.com.
Later, Bush's speech was dogged by an issue he was hoping to avoid: the missing weapons in Iraq.
Several protesters worked their way into the event, even though the campaign has numerous procedures in place to screen out protesters. They began to heckle Bush over the missing weapons.
The explosives -- which can be used to trigger nuclear warheads -- were reported missing earlier this month in a letter from the interim Iraqi government to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog organization.
The letter, dated October 10, blamed the theft and looting of government installations on a "lack of security" during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
The disappearance of the explosives has become a campaign issue since the Iraqi letter was reported Monday by The New York Times. David Kay, a former chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, said Wednesday that the explosives were probably looted, though the Pentagon and an Army commander dispute that.
Toward the end of his rally in Manchester, Bush was recognizing some attendees by name, including family members of individuals killed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when an event organizer released a flood of confetti during the president's remarks.
Bush had an event scheduled in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, before continuing on to Ohio, another battleground state, where he was joined by Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
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 in recent months.