Kerry sets foot in Oregon, sights on Bush

In what marked his first campaign visit to Oregon during the2004 presidential election, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry rallied acrowd of about 15,000 into outbursts of cheers and applause Mondaywith a 25-minute speech consisting of attacks against PresidentBush and promises of a brighter future for the United States ifelected.

Kerry criticized Bush’s foreign policies and war strategies,saying, “Working with other countries is not a sign of weakness …it is a sign of strength.”

He also criticized Bush and his economic advisors for sendingavailable jobs overseas and promised that if elected, he wouldimprove the job market by putting an end to this practice.

At the end of his speech, barely audible above the roarof the cheering crowd, Kerry called for the support of attendees,saying, “Let’s go out and win back the White House, let’s go backand make our democracy work, let’s get health care for allAmericans, let’s fight for our environment, let’s put people backto work, let’s make America fair again!”

Ex-presidential candidate Howard Dean introduced Kerry at thepublic rally, in what would appear to be a display of unity amongthese to former rivals.

Oregon resident and Vietnam veteran Jim Rassman briefly spoke tothe crowd, recounting an experience with Kerry 35 years ago, inwhich Kerry saved his life during a firefight on a Vietnameseriver. “An officer is there to put his subordinates’ welfare aheadof his own,” he said. “John Kerry did just that.”

Highlights also included a few introductory words from Lord ofthe Rings and Goonies actor Sean Astin, who is currently inPortland working on a film, and Everclear front man Art Alexakis,who warmed up the crowd with a couple of acoustic tunes, including”Brown Eyed Girl,” which he dedicated to his daughter.

Also present were Congressman Earl Blumenauer and ExecutiveDirector of Oregon’s Democratic Party Neel Pender, both of whomexpressed their support for Kerry and their distaste for Bush.

Blumenauer emphasized the importance of this particularpresidential election saying, “This is the most important electionof any of our lifetimes.”

Ten-year-old Moses Scott delivered the pledge of allegiance.

Scott, who had turned 10 the day before, asked for donations forKerry in lieu of presents for his birthday.

According to police officials, 15,000 people showed up to therally, 4,000 of whom were actually admitted into the fenced-offarea in Pioneer Courthouse Square.

With the large turnout of people at the campaign rally, Kerrysupporters hope it will be a step toward repeating Gore’s Oregonwin in the 2000 presidential election. Former Vice-President AlGore won Oregon in the 2000 presidential election by only about6,700 votes.