Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s in the midst of a 24-hour-long campaign marathon that has taken him from Davenport to Council Bluffs. Radio Iowa’s O.Kay Henderson caught up with Kerry earlier this morning at a hospital in Des Moines. Kerry popped into Mercy Hospita at about 1:45 and started talking with the night nursing staff. He peppered them with questions about things like staffing levels and overtime pay. At about three o’clock, as Kerry was leaving the hospital, Kerry said he wants to “make clear to people how focused” his campaign is and that he’ll “fight for every single vote.” Kerry says he’s “taking Iowa seriously” and is here to learn and address the concerns of working people — even those who work the night shift. Kerry started yesterday in Davenport and made stops in Cedar Rapids and Waterloo before visiting a bowling alley in Mason City last night. He visited with workers at the Des Moines Register’s printing plant after his stop at the hospital. Kerry says he wants Iowa to know he’s “serious about changing things in this country.” After a six o’clock stop in Council Bluffs, Kerry’ll eat breakfast with farmers in Missouri Valley before heading up to Sioux City where he’ll meet over the noon-hour with families who have loved ones on active military duty.On the stump, Kerry says the federal government needs to send more money to cities, counties and states to help cope with the heightened terror threat level.Kerry says when the feds raise the threat level to orange, local police and fire fighters go into overtime mode, and there are skyrocketing costs for cash-strapped local governments that Kerry says are “already hurting” for money. Kerry proposes an “alert fund” and an increase in federal funds for training emergency workers and upgrading equipment. “There’s a lot to be done,” he says. For example, Kerry says while “some progress” has been made in improving airline security, less than five percent of air cargo is screened. He says the Bush Administration has been too slow to install security equipment in airports that can more easily detect explosives.
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