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Inside Politics

Bush, Kerry claim 'hope' as their own

High-profile figures to join candidates on trail


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(CNN) -- Running neck-and-neck just four days before the election, President Bush and Sen. John Kerry vied to be seen as the more optimistic candidate Friday, with each insisting he offers a brighter vision for the future.

"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 told a crowd in Manchester, New Hampshire, the only Northeastern state to vote for the president in 2000. (Showdown state New Hampshire)

Kerry, at a rally in Orlando, Florida, said, "I see an America of rising opportunity. And I believe hope, not fear, is our future."

But Friday afternoon, a tape recorded by Osama bin Laden was broadcast on American television, offering a stark contrast to the messages of hope.

Bin Laden, wearing white and gold robes, claimed responsibility for the attacks of September 11, 2001, and said America's security depends on the direction of U.S. policy, not who is elected president. (Bin Laden: U.S. security depends on policy)

In response, both presidential candidates rejected any prospect of negotiating with bin Laden or altering U.S. policy in response to a threat.

"Americans will not be intimated or influenced by an enemy of our country," Bush said from Toledo, Ohio, before boarding Air Force One. "I'm sure Senator Kerry agrees with this. We're at war with these terrorists, and I'm confident we will prevail."

Kerry also said he would not hesitate to go after bin Laden or others who would attack the United States.

"Let me just make it crystal clear, as Americans we are absolutely united in our determination to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden and the terrorists," he said. "They are barbarians. I will stop at absolutely nothing to hunt down, capture and kill the terrorists wherever they are and whatever it takes."

Broader message

The tone on the campaign trail was more restrained on Friday as the two candidates withheld their most vitriolic attacks on one another. Aides from each campaign said the candidates wanted to focus on broader messages Friday.

Kerry did not specifically mention the ongoing battle over more than 300 tons of missing explosives in Iraq after several days of hammering Bush on the issue. Instead, he attempted to merge it with his larger point about Bush's record as commander in chief. (Commander: Unit found unsealed al-Qaqaa explosives)

"By now, it is clear that no matter who tells him, no matter how many times he hears it, and no matter how bad things get, George W. Bush just doesn't understand the problems facing America ... His mistakes and misjudgments have hurt our troops, driven away allies, diverted our focus from Osama bin Laden and the real war on terror."

At his speech in Manchester, meanwhile, Bush did not specifically mention his opponent, but his arguments referred to his previous depictions of Kerry as a "flip-flopper" not up to protecting the nation against terrorism.

"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 that his economic policies are working and America and the world are more secure today.

"Freedom is on the march," he said. "Our strategy to win the war on terror is succeeding.

One star expected at the Bush rally Friday-- Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling -- cancelled his appearance with the president after his doctors advised him not to travel because of an injured ankle, Schilling said on a fan Web site.

Despite the campaign's tight control, two mishaps marred Bush's speech in New Hampshire.

Several protesters worked their way into the event despite procedures to screen them out and heckled Bush over the missing explosives in Iraq. The protesters were soon escorted from the site.

Also, a mis-timed cue sent hails of confetti raining down on Bush during the middle of his speech as the president named attendees, including family members of people killed September 11.

The president made another event in New Hampshire -- this one in Portsmouth -- before continuing to Ohio, another battleground state, where he was joined by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film star and former Mr. Universe, a moderate Republican, spoke in August at the Republican National Convention. (Showdown state Ohio)

Kerry in Sunshine State

Kerry had three major events scheduled in Florida on Friday -- in Orlando, West Palm Beach and Miami -- before traveling to Wisconsin for the night. (Showdown state Florida)

Promising a "fresh start" for the country, he said he would address problems of ordinary Americans, whom he accused the president of neglecting.

"America has always been driven by a powerful idea: that with hard work and good values, we can give our children a better life," Kerry told the crowd in Orlando. "Not long ago, that middle-class dream was within reach of all those willing to work for it. But this president walked away from our basic bargain -- and today, America's great middle class is in danger because this president doesn't share your values."

Complaining that Bush has failed in leading both the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq, he said, "In this election, the safety of the American people is on the ballot. Our troops in Iraq are doing a heroic job -- the problem is our commander in chief isn't doing his."

Rock star Bruce Springsteen planned to join Kerry at his rally Friday night in Miami. Springsteen campaigned with Kerry on Thursday in Wisconsin and Ohio. A campaign aide said Springsteen was "energized" by the events and wanted to continue.

Springsteen was also scheduled to join Kerry for a rally Monday, the evening before the election.

Former President Clinton is also planning a three-day trip to help get out the vote for Kerry. Clinton is scheduled to travel Friday from New York to a pair of battleground states -- Nevada on Friday and New Mexico on Saturday -- before returning Sunday to rally the faithful in his native Arkansas, which Bush won four years ago. (Showdown states Nevada, New Mexico) (Clinton hits campaign trail for Kerry)

Meanwhile, Hawaii has become an unexpected addition to the list of battleground states.

Two recent polls show the race for the state's four electoral votes is too close to call, even though only two Republicans -- Richard Nixon in 1972 and Ronald Reagan in 1984 -- have carried Hawaii since statehood in 1959.

Vice President Dick Cheney will travel to Hawaii on Sunday, spending about 13 hours in the air for two hours on the ground.

Former Vice President Al Gore, who won Hawaii's electoral votes by 19 percentage points in 2000, will stump for Kerry, as will the senator's daughter Alexandra.

Emergency landing

The campaign plane of Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. John Edwards was forced to make an emergency landing Friday night after an exploding camera battery ignited a small fire on board.

The pilot landed at Raleigh-Durham International Airport about 10:45 p.m. Secret Service agents put out the fire. No one was injured.

An ABC News crew's battery exploded with a loud pop about 10 minutes after the plane took off, catching an airplane seat on fire and filling the cabin with smoke for a few minutes.

Edwards was flying to an event in Ohio after returning to his hometown of Raleigh to attend a rally and cast his ballot in early voting Friday. His plane took off again about 45 minutes after the emergency landing.

Friday's incident was the second this month on Edwards' campaign plane. On October 15, a takeoff had to be aborted in Cleveland after a warning light indicated a problem with a generator. No was injured in that incident.


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