- The Washington Times - Friday, July 30, 2004

BOSTON — John Kerry and John Edwards boarded a red, white and blue bus yesterday to begin a 3,500-mile trek across the country — dubbed “Believe in America” — through the swing states that are expected to determine the outcome of the November election.

“Americans are playing by the rules while a whole group of people are writing the rules for themselves and leaving the rest of America out,” Mr. Kerry said early yesterday morning during a rally at Boston Harbor before embarking on a two-week tour through 21 states. “We’re going to change all that around. Help is on the way for the average person in this country.”

The first stops during the coast-to-coast bus tour will be Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan — all states that strategists in both parties believe could vote for either candidate.

Joining them was actor Ben Affleck, who also was a dominant figure during the four-day convention that concluded here Thursday with Mr. Kerry’s 45-minute speech accepting his party’s nomination.

On the day of his speech, the Kerry campaign reported raising $5.6 million over the Internet, which would be a one-day record. However, since the campaign has decided to accept federal financing — which kicked in when he officially became the nominee this week — it will turn the money over to the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

The campaign plans to “go dark” for most of August. While Mr. Bush continues to raise and spend an unlimited amount of private donations, the DNC and other special-interest groups plan to launch new ads attacking him.

Continuing his efforts to buttress his national-security credentials, Mr. Kerry said yesterday he thinks Osama bin Laden should be tried in American courts.

“I want him tried for murder in New York City and in Virginia and in Pennsylvania,” he told the Associated Press in his first interview as the official Democratic presidential nominee. He said that would be the “fastest, surest route to conviction.”

One of the first stops on the bus tour was in Newburgh, N.Y., yesterday at a Wendy’s restaurant, where vice-presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, traditionally celebrate their wedding anniversary.

For 27 years, they have been going to Wendy’s, which was the only place they could afford after their first year of marriage.

Today, they are worth more than $12 million after Mr. Edwards’ successful career as a personal-injury lawyer, according to Senate records. Also, Wendy’s provides some political capital for the campaign team since it is headquartered in Ohio, won by Mr. Bush in 2000 and widely believed to be the most important swing state in this year’s election.

During the Wendy’s stop, Mr. Kerry wandered over to a table of Marines, chatted with them, shook their hands and wished them luck. The Marines, who gave single-syllable answers while Mr. Kerry hovered over their table, later grumbled that Mr. Kerry had “imposed on us” by going over and “shaking our hands.”

“I’m 100 percent against” Mr. Kerry, one of the Marines told a reporter. “We support our commander in chief 100 percent.”

Mr. Kerry also ran into the Reagans, a Republican family from Wallkill, N.Y., who were celebrating their 22-year-old son’s enlistment in the Air National Guard.

“I’ve always been a Republican, but after the speech last night we made the decision that we were going to vote for Kerry,” said Debbie Reagan, 47.

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