Bush Is Back On The Bus

President Bush was back on the campaign trail Thursday after spending a rate full day in Washington. Mr. Bush is traveling by bus in Minnesota, where he'll focus on health care at stops in St. Cloud, Blaine and Rochester, Minnesota.

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, meanwhile, is off to Las Vegas, where he will address a National Guard convention. It's same group Mr. Bush spoke before earlier this week.

The president's trip to Minnesota comes as a new poll conducted for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Minnesota Public Radio shows the president and Kerry in a dead heat in the state, with 46 percent of voters backing Mr. Bush and 44 percent supporting Kerry. That's within the poll's margin of error of four percentage points, making the race in Minnesota a tossup.

In other campaign developments:

  • The New York Times reports that some Democrats believe vice presidential candidate John Edwards needs to take a more aggressive approach on the campaign trail, especially in light of the slashing attacks Vice President Dick Cheney has made on Kerry.
  • The Times also reports that former Clinton spokesman Joe Lockhart has taken charge of much of the daily communications for the Kerry campaign. The newspaper said Lockhart's ascension was part of the second major staff overhaul the campaign was undergone in the past 10 months. Lockhart's principal responsibility will be to ensure that Kerry maintains a consistent message, the Times said.
  • The Florida State Supreme Court has ordered state elections supervisors to not mail any absentee ballots — with or without Ralph Nader's name — until it decides if he belongs on them. Nader has been on and off Florida's ballot for the last two weeks as lawsuits filed by the Florida Democratic Party and several individual voters challenged his qualification as the Reform Party candidate.

    Mr. Bush's emphasis on health care in Minnesota is intended to strengthen his standing with voters on an issue that has been a weak spot for him.

    The number of people without health insurance rose to nearly 45 million in 2003, from about 40 million in 2000.

    Mr. Bush's proposals to address the problem include letting small businesses pool resources to buy health insurance at the same discounts available to larger companies.

    He also favors expanding tax-free health saving accounts for individuals and plans to propose a tax credit to help poor families and individuals buy health coverage. Further, he wants to have health centers in the poorest communities to serve the underprivileged.

    Kerry wants to help more businesses offer health care by requiring the federal government to pick up 75 percent of catastrophic health care costs, a plan his campaign estimates will lower premiums by an average of 10 percent. The Massachusetts senator also would give small businesses a tax credit to help them bear the cost of health insurance and wants to allow people to buy cheaper-priced drugs from Canada.

    Mr. Bush tells audiences Kerry has proposed "a massive complicated blueprint to increase government control over your health care." Kerry says his health care plan is not a government plan.