That videotape from Osama bin Laden was the focus of much of the campaign cross-talk this weekend in the final hours of the 2004 campaign. On Saturday, democratic presidential candidate John Kerry spoke to about two-thousand supporters who’d gathered on the statehouse grounds in Des Moines, and briefly mentioning bin Laden by name. “There’s no democrat. There’s no republican. We are all Americans and all united in our determination to seek out and destroy Osama bin Laden and the other terrorists. They are barbarians and we are going to hunt them down, find them and do whatever it takes to make America safe,” Kerry said. “I defended our country as a young man and I will defend it as President of the United States of America.” Most of Kerry’s speech, though, focused on domestic policies, like job creation and ensuring health care for more Americans. Kerry said he’d be a president who not only defended the country from its enemies, but who defended the middle class and made America’s economy stronger. On Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney spent about 15 minutes talking with a few dozen campaign volunteers in Fort Dodge — and devoted most of his time to the war on terror. Cheney accused rival John Kerry of testing the political winds before commenting on the recently-broadcast bin Laden tape. “He went out and went into the field with a public opinion poll to find out what he should say about this tape and Osama bin Laden. It was as though he didn’t know what he believes until he has to go and check a poll, stick his finger in the air, see which way the political winds are blowing and then he’ll make a decision and take a position and articulate a point of view,” Cheney said. “George Bush doesn’t need a poll to know what he believes, especially about Osama bin Laden.”*Cheney said Kerry is not the kind of man who’s “up to the task of being commander-in-chief and prosecuting the global war on terror.” Cheney said he’d been “agitated” about the poll ever since he heard about it. Colin Van Ostren, a spokesman for the Kerry campaign in Iowa, says he’s agitated, too.”What’s disappointing is that Dick Cheney knows this attack is just not true at all, yet he made it anyway,” Van Ostren says. He says Kerry did not wait for a poll to respond to the latest news of bin Laden. Van Ostren says Kerry’s response was “immediate and crystal clear” — that all Americans should be unified in hunting down the terrorists like bin Laden. Van Ostren says the poll Cheney cites was done for the Democracy Corps. “It’s an independent group. It’s not paid for or sponsored by the Kerry campaign,” Van Ostren says. On the campaign trail today, President Bush makes stops in Des Moines and Sioux City. John Edwards stops in Des Moines and his wife campaigns in Davenport.
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