updated 9/27/2004 2:50:01 PM ET 2004-09-27T18:50:01

Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards said Sunday a Kerry-Edwards administration would show no mercy to terrorists.

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“When I am your vice president we will find al-Qaida. We will find these terrorists where they are and we will crush them before they can do any harm on America,” Edwards told about 2,600 people at a town hall meeting.

“This is a battle against good and evil. This is a battle between freedom and those that would stop freedom.”

Edwards said that recent Republican ads, depicting Osama bin Laden with narration claiming that terrorists would want John Kerry to be president, exploit the Sept. 11 tragedy.

Edwards outlined a plan to fight the war on terror that would return the focus to the hunt for al-Qaida and bin Laden. He said the Kerry-Edwards plan would build international coalitions like those built in both world wars.

Kerry has said he will remove troops from Iraq during his first term as president. Edwards said doing so would require that the administration accelerate the training of Iraqi security forces.

“The reality is Iraq is a mess, and it’s a mess because of two men: George Bush and Dick Cheney.”

Edwards’ visit to Maine was his second this month. Edwards visited the University of Maine in early September.

Bush visited Bangor on Thursday, where he sought to bolster public confidence in the economy.

Polls show voters evenly divided in Maine
Maine, with four electoral votes, is one of two states that doles them out by congressional district, rather than giving all to the winner. The winner of the statewide popular vote gets two electoral votes, and the winner in each of Maine’s two congressional districts receives one, making a 3-1 split possible.

In all other states except Nebraska, the winner of the popular vote takes all that state’s electoral votes.

Bush lost Maine in 2000, but a recent poll showed voters evenly divided between him and Kerry.

Edwards’ visit followed an appearance in Detroit where the North Carolina senator also hit on the theme that Republicans are engaged in an immoral attempt to divide the nation by taking partisan advantage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Bush campaign spokesman Brian Jones said Sunday that the president has called for an end to such attack ads by outside groups.

“Nevertheless, the Kerry campaign has continually played politics with the war on terror,” Jones said. “Kerry’s chronic vacillation regarding the war on terror raises serious questions about his character and his ability to lead during these extraordinary times.”

The senator on Monday will campaign in Manchester, N.H., Providence, R.I., and New York City, N.Y.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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