WICHITA, KS—Delivering the central speech of his 10-day "Solution For America" bus campaign tour Monday, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry outlined his one-point plan for a better America: the removal of George W. Bush from the White House.
"If I am elected in November, no inner-city child will have to live in an America where George Bush is president," Kerry said, addressing a packed Maize High School auditorium. "No senior citizen will lie awake at night, worrying about whether George Bush is still the chief executive of this country. And no American—regardless of gender, regardless of class, regardless of race—will be represented by George Bush in the world community."
The Solution For America tour, which began in Boston, will end in Eugene, OR on Aug. 20. During the next week and a half, Kerry and vice-presidential hopeful John Edwards are expected to bring their message of a Bush-free country to several hundred thousand Americans.
In the speech, Kerry offered a solution for the nation's ailing education system.
"Schools do not have the resources they need to succeed," Kerry said. "One million students are dropping out of high school every year. John Kerry and John Edwards have a plan to ensure that all Americans can make the most of their God-given talents: Get George Bush out of the White House."
Kerry also spoke on the subject of national security.
"This country has embraced a new and dangerously ineffective disregard for the world," Kerry said. "In order to win the global war against terror, we must promote democracy, freedom, and opportunity around the world. My national-defense policy will be guided by one imperative: Don't be George Bush. As will my plans to create a strong economy, protect civil rights, develop a better healthcare system, and improve homeland security."
Joining Kerry at the podium, Edwards raised one issue not discussed by his running mate: the environment.
"Let's not forget one important point," Edwards said. "We need to set a new standard of environmental excellence for America by renewing our nation's promise of clean air, clean water, and a bountiful landscape for all. In the 21st century, we can have progress without pollution—as long as we have a Dick Cheney-free White House."
The new message is resonating with registered Democrats.
"John Kerry really spoke to my dream, my hope, and my aspiration for this nation," University of Kansas sophomore Jason Brandt said. "He sees the world as I do."
"With all the mess that's going on in the country—the deficits, the government's power-grab, the wars—it's time for a president who admits that there's a problem and has a plan to fix it," Brandt added. "A president who is not George W. Bush is exactly what we need—and Kerry fits the bill 100 percent."
Kerry's message resonated less strongly with one Lawrence, KS swing voter.
"Politicians make a lot of campaign promises," Lance Radda said. "Sure, this not-being-Bush policy sounds good now. But how can we be sure that Kerry will deliver on that promise once in office?"
Kerry addressed Radda's question.
"I promise you, here and now, that I will enact my one-point plan on the day I enter the Oval Office," Kerry said. "For the last three and a half years, we've had George W. Bush, and today I have this to say: We can do better!"
In his final words, Kerry changed the subject to attack Bush's record.
"During his term in office, George Bush has relentlessly continued to be president—despite the clear benefits to America his absence would bring to the lives of citizens everywhere," Kerry said. "My one-point plan for America highlights the sort of change that this country desperately needs. And my plan is something that George Bush will never, ever be able to accomplish."
Bush-Cheney campaign manager Ken Mehlman described Kerry's plan as a vicious, partisan attack.
"It's absolutely ridiculous that John Kerry is offering one solution to all of America's problems," Mehlman said. "Who's going to listen to logic like that? Anyone can see that Kerry is a Massachusetts liberal who will raise your taxes and open our borders to terrorist attacks. Vote Bush."