- The Washington Times - Monday, August 2, 2004

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (AP) — Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry yesterday told a crowd packed into a block of Main Street that he would fight to prevent steel imports from taking more American jobs.

“The law is the law; you’re supposed to enforce the law,” Mr. Kerry said, referring to steps the president can take to stop foreign producers from selling cheaper steel in the United States.

“I promise you you’re going to have a president and vice president that will fight harder for your jobs than we do for our own,” he said.

President Bush imposed steep tariffs on steel imports in March 2002 to ease foreign competition and let the U.S. industry reorganize, but reversed course in December to avoid a trade war with the European Union.

At the same time, the White House retained a system to temporarily monitor imports.

“The president visited Ohio, and the president told people in Ohio that the policies that had been put in place are working, and they are going to lead to job gains,” said Bush spokesman Steve Schmidt.

Mr. Bush visited Ohio last week in a Midwest campaign swing that nearly crossed paths with Mr. Kerry’s caravan of campaign buses. Both see Ohio’s 20 electoral votes as crucial.

Mr. Kerry made his remarks during a hot afternoon on the third day of a two-week tour through battleground states, and planned to head out of Ohio and into Michigan later yesterday.

Mr. Kerry also said he plans to use private negotiations to persuade other heads of state to assist in reconstructing Iraq, but he does not envision sending more U.S. troops.

Mr. Kerry said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that a new president can make a “fresh start” with foreign leaders who opposed the war.

“If we demonstrate an America that has a foreign policy that is smarter, more engaged … and more respectful of the world, we’re going to bring people to our side,” Mr. Kerry said. “We’re not only not going to put additional troops there, that’s the way to bring our troops home.”

In a separate interview yesterday on CNN’s “Late Edition,” Mr. Kerry declined to specify a timetable for withdrawing the 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. But he did say, “I would consider it an unsuccessful policy if I hadn’t brought significant numbers of troops back within the first term.”

Mr. Kerry and running mate Sen. John Edwards did interviews with CBS, CNN, ABC and Fox, which were broadcast yesterday.

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