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[THIRD Edition]
Boston Globe - Boston, Mass.
Subjects: Political campaigns; Presidential elections
Author: Kornblut, Anne E
Date: Feb 24, 2004
Start Page: A.1
Section: National/Foreign
Abstract (Document Summary)

By day's end, [John F. Kerry] had returned to his broad campaign theme - that Bush is out of touch with reality and no longer can be trusted. "President Bush gave his speech tonight as if the past 3 1/2 years never happened," Kerry said. "But the American people haven't forgotten this president's failed record, because they have to live with it every day. George Bush's credibility is running out with the American people. They want change in America, and I'm running because I am determined to bring that change and put America back on track."

Bush launched the fresh offensive after weeks of dropping poll numbers when compared either with Kerry or Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, data that suggest widespread dissatisfaction with the president as much as enthusiasm for either Democratic rival. Although Bush has a financial advantage, having raised more money than any candidate in history, he also has suffered a spate of negative news, including over the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, his National Guard service during Vietnam, a grand jury inquiry into leaked confidential information about a CIA agent, continuing unemployment in the country, and his State of the Union speech, which was met with disdain even by many Republicans.

the Bush campaign also made clear yesterday that it will respond to any attack Kerry makes; after Kerry accused Bush of questioning his patriotism, [Marc Racicot] held a last-minute conference call with reporters yesterday to deny it, and to outline which exact programs Kerry had voted for in the Senate. "His record on defense and intelligence funding is not defensible," Racicot said.

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