Mr. Bush has a simple explanation for his Democratic rival's recent slide: Iraq.
The New York Times reported that a senior Bush political adviser said Kerry's dip in the surveys stemmed from the Massachusetts senator's statement two weeks ago that he would have voted to give Mr. Bush authorization to go to war with Iraq even if he had known Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction.
"It felt like he (Kerry) had finally made his position clear," Mr. Bush told the newspaper in an interview on Thursday.
Mr. Bush also acknowledged for the first time he had made a "miscalculation of what the conditions would be" in postwar Iraq. But Mr. Bush also told the newspaper that administration policy was flexible enough to adapt to the changing conditions in Iraq.
Mr. Bush is on a six-day tour of battleground states that will culminate in his appearance at the Republican convention in New York City.
Kerry, meanwhile, is campaigning in California, where he is championing consumer causes with promises to curb credit card fees and protect homebuyers and military families from unfair lending practices.
"By putting in place strong consumer protections that hold lenders accountable, we can put billions of dollars back into the pockets of middle-class families struggling to make ends meet, help families climb out of debt and build a better life for their children," Kerry said in remarks prepared for delivery Friday in Daly City, Calif.
Kerry's proposals ask financial companies to disclose more information to customers, including requiring that credit card bills display the number of months it would take a customer to pay off the balance by making the minimum monthly payments.
Other proposals would block credit card companies from changing the interest rates on purchases retroactively and require them to notify customers before raising their interest rates.
Kerry said President Bush gets too many campaign contributions from the financial industry to make the changes that consumers need. "For four years, George Bush has put narrow interests first while hardworking families pay the price," he said.
The Bush-Cheney campaign countered that Kerry's campaign benefits, too, from financial donations.
In other campaign developments: