Kerry stumps in Twin Cities

by Josh Verges

On the day his campaign announced its biggest advertising buy yet, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., criticized his opponent’s attack ads in Minneapolis on Monday night.

“I don’t know what kind of jobs (President) George (W.) Bush has created, but I know he hasn’t gotten any fact-checkers hired,” Kerry said.

“They want to debate a war that took place 35 years ago, when the real issue is how do we together build a stronger America today,” Kerry told approximately 3,500 supporters.

Kerry’s million-dollar fund raiser at the Minneapolis Convention Center came a week after Bush’s visit and six months before the election.

The Kerry campaign began running two 60-second television commercials Sunday in 17 swing states – including Minnesota – plus two states that belonged to Bush in 2000 and were previously untouched this year by either candidate’s ads. Bush defeated Al Gore in Colorado by 8.4 percent of the popular vote and in Louisiana by 7.7 percent, earning him nine electoral votes from each.

Kerry is scheduled for two events in Louisiana this Friday and Saturday.

The new ads detail Kerry’s time as a soldier, a prosecutor, a lieutenant governor and a senator, with the tagline, “A lifetime of service and strength.” The ads will run on broadcast and cable channels through May 27.

Minnesota College Republicans State Chairman Jake Grassel said Kerry’s television ads aren’t working.

“He’s not a regular guy. He does not hold the same values as Minnesotans,” Grassel said. “(Kerry) is a complete contrast to the president.”

Grassel criticized what he called Kerry’s “double-speak” on his service in the Vietnam War, saying his stories about the war jive with the “anti-American rhetoric” he displayed upon his return to the United States.

“It’s completely disrespectful to our men and women in the armed services,” Grassel said.

Last week in Minneapolis, Bush announced his plan to boost technology. Kerry said Monday that he wanted to return the country to pre-eminence in science.

Kerry said he would fund and encourage research for alternative fuel sources so that by 2020 the United States would get 20 percent of its energy from alternative and renewable fuel sources.

“There is no way to drill our way out of this predicament,” he said. “We have to invent our way out of it.”

Invoking the late Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone’s name, Kerry called on young people to create change in the country this year the way they did in the 1960s.

“This is the time to knock on doors and talk to people and organize and build the greatest grassroots movement we’ve ever had in our party and in our country,” he said.

Kerry will meet with young people at a job training center in St. Paul this morning before flying to another event in New Mexico.

Tickets to Monday’s event were priced at $75, $1,000 and $2,000. Student tickets cost $35.

University DFL President Austin Miller said the special price reflects the Kerry campaign’s desire to enlist more college volunteers.

“He’s really trying to reach out to college students,” he said.