Bush Bus Tour Rolls Into Ohio
In Thursday, April 12, 2012 photo, Paul Kader II fills out a job application during a career fair in Buffalo, N.Y. The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits was unchanged last week, suggesting steady gains in the job market. The Labor Department said Thursday, May 17, 2012 that weekly unemployment aid applications stayed at a seasonally adjusted 370,000, the same level as the previous week. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell for the second straight week, to 375,000. (AP Photo/David Duprey) / David Duprey
Earlier in this campaign, Democrat John Kerry suggested that opposition to Mr. Bush is so widespread in foreign capitals that a variety of politicians were rooting for the president to lose. Republicans have demanded that Kerry name the leaders supposedly supporting him.
"I've got a hunch this whole thing might be a case of mistaken identity," Mr. Bush told supporters at a pancake breakfast at a recreation center just outside Toledo. "Whoever these mystery men are, they're not going to be deciding this election. The American people will be deciding this election."
It was the first of four events in this state he won four years ago, though by a narrow margin, reports CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller. With 20 electoral votes, Ohio is a state Mr. Bush cannot afford to lose and this visit, six months before the election, is meant to serve notice on supporters that they must use the time to get out the vote.
No Republican has ever won the White House without capturing Ohio.
But Mr. Bush has a hard sell in Ohio as he tries to convince voters, especially blue-collar ones facing a bleak job market, that he's the man to guide the U.S. economy for another four years.
As he did in Michigan on Monday, the first leg of a two-day, nearly 300-mile campaign bus tour, the president acknowledged the despair faced by unemployed workers in Ohio and assured them that the U.S. economy is on an upswing.
"We're in a time of transition. The nature of the job base has begun to shift. It provides opportunity, but for somebody whose job is being transitioned, it provides anxiety. I know there's a lot of people in this part of the state who are anxious," he said. "This economy is strong and it is getting stronger and the people of Ohio are going to feel the economic vitality that's occurring across the country."
In a sign that the nation's manufacturers are getting a firmer grip on their own business recovery, U.S. factories saw orders jump in March by the largest amount in more than a year and a half, the Commerce Department reported.
Jobs are a key issue for Ohio voters. The state's unemployment rate has risen from 3.9 percent to 5.7 percent since Mr. Bush took office. More than 222,000 jobs have been lost in the state where the manufacturing sector is shrinking.
"Manufacturing jobs continue to be lost," said Dan Trevas, a spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party.
Ohio Gov. Robert Taft, head of the Republican Governors Association, is cutting the state budget because he doesn't anticipate growth in the state's income tax, Trevas said. "If he has so much confidence in Bush's economic policies, how come he's cutting the budget?" Trevas asked.
Not all voters, though, think the economy is the top issue in Ohio.
"I think getting the promises met for the war in Iraq is No. 1," said Tony Allion, a county engineer from Bloomdale, Ohio, who drove an hour to attend a pancake breakfast and rally Tuesday morning at a recreation center here.
Tiffany Adamski, a community college professor from nearby Toledo, said Mr. Bush will win Ohio if he remains resolute. "Strong stances on the issues — he needs to stick with them," Adamski said. "The opposition turns around and changes again."
Kerry spokesman Phil Singer said the president has no record on which to run his campaign, so he attacks.
"Why hasn't he explained how he's going to get back the hundreds of thousands of jobs that have disappeared on his watch? Why hasn't George Bush detailed a credible plan for how to turn the economy around?" Singer asked. "Anything less and he's going to find himself on the unemployment line."
Kerry was campaigning Tuesday on one of the signature issues of the Bush presidency – education. The Massachusetts senator said that if he's elected president, he will push for 1 million more students to graduate high school within five years.
"We've got 40 and 50 percent dropout rates in some cities," Kerry said while visiting at-risk students in the Youth Build program in St. Paul. "That's just unacceptable. A lot of alternative education sites are a way that kids can really find their way into the system."
Kerry said he has asked for an increase in the $65 million spent on Youth Build but was not supported by the Bush administration.
Kerry voted for Mr. Bush's education policy known as No Child Left Behind, but now says the president has failed to back up the law with enough money to help schools raise academic standards.
Bush spokesman Steve Schmidt said the senator's criticism of No Child Left Behind is "another example of John Kerry saying one thing and doing another."
"John Kerry voted for No Child Left Behind legislation but has turned against it and now criticizes it at every turn for purely political reasons," Schmidt said.
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