Pablo Martinez Monsivais  /  AP
President Bush carries an infant during a campaign rally Monday in Traverse City, Mich.
updated 8/16/2004 9:38:02 PM ET 2004-08-17T01:38:02

Sen. John Kerry plans this week to present his case that President Bush is stacking the federal government with friends and donors who are gutting regulations on U.S. corporations.

Kerry, running mate John Edwards and supporters are stressing a theme that they’ve been campaigning on all year — Bush puts corporate interests ahead of workers and the middle class.

Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said Kerry has no standing to criticize, considering that the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics determined he has received more campaign contributions from lobbyists over the years than any other senator. Schmidt also pointed out that Edwards, a North Carolina senator, refused to release the names of his top fund-raisers.

“There is a great deal of hypocrisy in these attacks,” Schmidt said.

Edwards carries the flag
With Kerry vacationing in Idaho, Edwards, a former trial attorney, was arguing the campaign’s case that Bush has “the most aggressive anti-regulatory posture in memory” during a stop in Willard, Mo., on Monday. Video: Defining differences

“We’ve unfortunately seen too many examples of times when this administration should have stood up for the interests of working Americans but looked the other way instead,” he said in prepared remarks. “When John and I are in the White House, the for-sale sign is going to come off the front door.”

A Kerry-Edwards campaign report attempts to tie donations from various industries to favors that the industry got from the administration. For example, it says:

  • The logging and timber industry gave more than $1.5 million to Bush and got the right to log without the usual environmental reviews.
  • The coal industry gave $300,000 to Bush and got less protection against black lung disease for workers.
  • The chemical industry gave more than $1 million to Bush and got reduced regulations on chemicals exposed to workers.
  • The auto industry gave more than $300,000 to Bush and got eased rules on reporting potential defects and a rule allowing truckers to drive 11 hours a day.
  • The restaurant industry gave more than $1.2 million and got killed a regulation intended to prevent their workers from exposure to smoke.

The Kerry campaign also names many administration officials who used to work for the industries they now oversee.

Bush travels to Michigan
Bush, meanwhile, began his campaign week with a rally in northern Michigan, a state he lost to Gore in 2000. Bush’s visit to Traverse City, Mich., was the first by a sitting president since Gerald Ford in 1975.

Bush voiced sympathy for this industrial state’s economic distress but told a receptive audience that conditions are improving. “We’ve come through a lot together,” Bush told an outdoor rally at the Grand Traverse County Civic Center.

He lost Michigan to Al Gore in 2000 by 5 percentage points. Recent state polls show Kerry with a slight lead. However, northern Michigan is heavily Republican. The crowd chanted, “Four more years.”

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Video: Bush said he would “make sure good jobs stay in America” and would try to open more foreign markets for Michigan farmers. “We want them feeding hungry mouths all over the world,” Bush said.

He again mocked what he said was Kerry’s shifting position on the war in Iraq. Bush said he was heartened when Kerry said last week that he would have still voted to give Bush war authority had he known in the fall of 2002 what he knows now — that there were no weapons of mass destruction.

Still, Bush said to laughter, “he has 78 days to change his mind.”

Kerry has said that he would have still voted to give the president war authority — but that he himself would have used the authority more wisely.

Bush credited recent signs of economic recovery to “two well-timed tax cuts” and to people’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Unemployment in the state is 6.5 percent, a full percentage point higher than the national average.

“George Bush must think there’s a sucker born every minute if he thinks he can trick the public into thinking he’s got an agenda for working families,” said Kerry spokesman Phil Singer. He said Bush’s “tax policies shifted the tax burden onto middle class Americans.”

It was Bush’s fifth visit to Michigan in six weeks, his 27th since becoming president.

Bush's trip to Michigan followed his speech in Cincinnati in which he unveiled a plan for one of the largest U.S. troop realignments since the end of the Cold War.

Edwards woos rural voters
Edwards promised Monday to deliver high-speed Internet access and more money for people to start businesses in rural areas.

Edwards, on his second stop in as many days in southwest Missouri, said business closings and declining wages are particularly acute in rural parts of the country, and that he and John Kerry would help change that if elected.

Video: Bush announces troop shift “The key to this is to have a president and vice president of the United States who don’t think of rural America as a place you fly over between New York and California,” Edwards told a private gathering of about 35 people on a 500-acre family farm. “It’s part of our way of life, what we believe in.”

Edwards said he and Kerry would create a program to get more venture capital and management expertise to rural areas. Providing financial and educational support for entrepreneurs would help strengthen rural economies, he said.

Another piece of the plan calls for making high-speed Internet available. Edwards said that would slow the movement of jobs to other countries by helping small towns stay on the forefront of manufacturing and technology.

Edwards also promoted ethanol and other grain-based fuels as a way to reduce consumption of foreign oil. Using crops and other alternative sources would stimulate the economy by providing another outlet for those products, he said.

The Bush-Cheney campaign responded with a list of reasons why “Kerry is wrong for rural America.”

“John Kerry doesn’t have a pro-growth, pro-jobs economic plan,” said Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo. “He supports higher taxes which will hurt Missouri’s economy — an economy that has created 63,500 new jobs over the past year.”

Edwards traveled afterward to Georgia, for a rally in College Park and a fund-raiser in downtown Atlanta. Democrats hoped to raise $1 million for the Democratic National Committee.

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