- The Washington Times - Monday, November 1, 2004

DAYTON, Ohio — Sen. John Kerry stormed through three crucial states yesterday, making what his campaign called his “closing argument” to the American people and whipping up every last pocket of support before tomorrow’s election.

During speeches from the Midwest to Florida, Mr. Kerry hewed close to the domestic themes that are the biggest Democratic crowd pleasers. The Massachusetts senator blamed President Bush for a host of economic ailments that he says are racking the country.

Mr. Kerry began the day by attending a service at Shiloh Baptist Church in Dayton, his fifth visit to a black Ohio congregation in as many weeks. He addressed the congregants with a veiled jab at Mr. Bush and the sincerity of his faith.

“There is a standard by which we have to live,” he said. “Coming to church on Sundays and talking about faith and professing faith isn’t the whole deal.”

Mr. Kerry cited the New Testament, saying “faith without works is dead,” and said it frustrated him to hear “politicians talk about values … without actually valuing families the way we ought to.”

Citing tax cuts for the wealthy, job losses and a decline in the number of Americans with health insurance, Mr. Kerry said he was running for president because he was “sick and tired” of watching while the wrong choices were made.

But the latest Newsweek poll showed Mr. Kerry trailing by six points, after being tied with Mr. Bush in the same poll a week earlier. Democrats also told the Associated Press that their private surveys hinted at momentum toward Mr. Bush.

Mr. Kerry took Communion at a Roman Catholic church service yesterday, the Church of the Holy Angels. Shortly after Mr. Kerry took his seat at the front of the church, a couple of churchgoers arose and walked out.

“I won’t spend a moment with that man,” said one woman, who disappeared before reporters could catch up with her.

After church, Mr. Kerry stopped at a field here and took off his coat, but not his tie, to toss the football with campaign aides traveling with him, including his former brother-in-law, David Thorne.

Asked whether he had any election-eve message for the American people, Mr. Kerry replied: “We need to bring America together, and we’re going to do that.”

At Shiloh Baptist, Mr. Kerry tempered his red-meat political message with lessons from the Bible to chide Mr. Bush’s social and economic policies.

“For the next four years, we are going to work out what we need to do to heal the wounds of this country, to be one America,” Mr. Kerry said.

“We are going to get this done. Let’s make it happen. Let’s walk in the footsteps of the Lord.”

The congregation greeted Mr. Kerry with a standing ovation, and the Rev. Selwyn Bachus promised that the church would work hard for Mr. Kerry’s election.

Mr. Kerry implied that Mr. Bush’s policies on health care, unemployment benefits and overtime pay did not square with the president’s Christianity and preference for faith-based social services.

In an interview with the Associated Press released yesterday, Mr. Kerry said he would keep the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives created by Mr. Bush, but would run it differently.

He said the president’s program “steps over a constitutional line” because it allows religious activities as part of the programs.

“I think I’ll actually get further in terms of leveraging faith-based efforts than George Bush did, because I’m not going to cross that line, and we’ll get Congress to be supportive of it,” he told the Associated Press.

In the interview, Mr. Kerry was vague about national security and the war on terrorism apart from saying he “will get other people to the table.”

“I know exactly what I want to do to get the job done, and I’m going to get the job done” in Iraq, he said. “I’m going to make America safer, and I have some very strong and real steps to take quite immediately to make that happen. I will make America safer.”

But he said he is “not even going to begin to speculate on any military operation, or any timings of anything.”

Mr. Kerry’s supporters expressed optimism about tomorrow’s election, though even the campaign’s own polling shows no discernible movement toward the candidate.

In recent days, Mr. Kerry’s campaign rallies have become both larger and smaller. Some, featuring rock superstars such as Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi, have attracted as many as 80,000 spectators. Others have attracted only a couple hundred supporters.

At a rally yesterday, Mr. Kerry was joined by several officials from the Boston Red Sox, which just won the World Series. A crowd of about 12,000 showed up and jammed the streets of Manchester, N.H.

Missing from the lineup on stage was pitcher Curt Schilling, who startled some the morning after winning the World Series by endorsing Mr. Bush live on “Good Morning America.”

• This article was based in part on wire-service reports.

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