Kerry recycles domestic debate themes

Playing to what pundits and campaign strategists say are his strengths, Democratic nominee for president Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) addressed domestic issues and domestic issues only in a recent visit to Milwaukee.

In fact, Kerry did not mention terror or terrorists when he spoke Friday at the Milwaukee Area Technical College, 1015 N. 6th St., and brought up national security, seen as President Bush's strong issue, as part of summary statements at the end of his speech.

"In the end, this isn't about being Democrat or Repubican," Kerry said. It is "about how we make our nation safe and strong," among other things.

Kerry began by talking about creating new jobs.

"I'm here to discuss what we have to do to create an economy of the 21st century," he said. "It's not enough to change with the times, we need to change ahead of the times," Kerry said later in his speech. "The jobs of tomorrow depend on the discoveries of today."

He said his administration would "care about research and science," proposing America could have 20 percent of its fuel from alternative energy sources by 2020.

The majority of the speech focused on the economic issues, with Kerry saying he'd be "a president who will open the economy to the great middle class."

Reiterating what he said in the third debate, Kerry said he would raise the minimum wage, open the congressional health care plan to all Americans, allow imported medication from Canada and close tax law loopholes that allow corporations that move overseas to defer taxes.

Kerry accused the current administration of big spending and creating a large federal government, and said he would "reinstate common sense" in the pay-as-you-go-rule, which requires legislation calling for new spending to show where the money to pay for it will come from.

The crowd of about 1,800 gave Kerry two standing ovations, enthusiastically chanting his name. Outside, Bush supporters chanted just as enthusiastically through a bullhorn.

"We knew Kerry was going to be in town all day and wanted to show our support for President Bush," said Brian Collar, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. Collar and others followed the Kerry camp up to Sheboygan and Appleton. "(We were) doing our part to support President Bush by protesting Kerry's rallies throughout the day."

The event also drew several local Democrats. Gwen Moore, Democratic nominee for the 4th Congressional District, and Mayor Tom Barrett introduced Kerry to the crowd, which included Gov. Jim Doyle and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.).

Barrett and Moore stressed the importance of the coming election, urging people to vote.

"This is going to be the closest election of our lifetime," Barrett said. "Closer than last time."

The crowd seemed to enjoy the speech.

"It was a great rally and a great location for a rally," said Bob Bauman, alderman for the 4th District, which includes Marquette. "It highlights the need for education."

John Dykstra, an MATC student and undecided voter, said he came out to hear what Kerry had to say.

"I've never really listened to any debates on TV," he said. Dykstra said he was now thinking of voting for Kerry and liked "what he had to say about America, and all the different ways to change it."