Cheney was the only one of the four candidates Sunday to bring up the tape of bin Laden. At a gathering of activists at GOP headquarters in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Cheney slammed Kerry's staff for telling reporters about results of a poll question about the tape.
"John Kerry's first response was to conduct a poll to find out what he should say about this tape of Osama bin Laden," Cheney said. "He didn't know what to say before he checked polls, he had to stick his finger in the air. . . . George Bush doesn't need a poll to say what he believes, especially about Osama bin Laden." Cheney added that bin Laden is "obviously trying to have an impact on our elections . . . trying to frighten Americans."
Cheney was referring to a question in a poll taken by Democracy Corps, a Democratic group, in which voters said by more than 10 points that the reemergence of bin Laden made them "think that George Bush took his eye off the ball in Afghanistan and diverted resources to Iraq."
Kerry, however, made his comments about the bin Laden tape Friday afternoon. The poll was taken Friday night and Saturday.
More than 10,000 Kerry supporters showed up to greet the Massachusetts senator at a festive rally in Manchester, N.H., where Boston's new heroes, John Henry and Tom Werner, owners of World Series-winning Red Sox, introduced Kerry. On Thursday, Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling endorsed Bush on a morning television show.
At Shiloh Baptist Church in Dayton, Kerry was greeted warmly by about 1,000 members of the congregation. The minister did his best to help Kerry excite the worshipers, mistakenly calling him Sen. Kennedy four times. The Rev. Selwyn Bachus also drew a parallel to Halloween.
"Certainly over these past few years we've experienced some nightmares here in the state of Ohio," he said. "We lost some 200,000 jobs, our seniors having to go to Canada to get prescription drugs . . . our young people's blood flowing in the streets . . . in this city and cities all across the country. It's been a nightmare, but we have the chance to help Senator Kerry bring the nightmare to an end."
Kerry's running mate, Sen. John Edwards, sought to drive up Democratic turnout Sunday during stops in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Iowa. He, too, started the day in an African American church, in Jacksonville, Fla., where he said his ticket is more in touch with everyday Americans. "They don't hear the voices of the people we grew up with," Edwards told a congregation of about 200 at Greater Grant AME Church. "John Kerry and I hear your voice. We're going to fight for you every day."
Later, Edwards, joined by former senator John Glenn, knocked on a half-dozen doors in a neighborhood in northeastern Columbus, Ohio, that is part of a ward that Bush won in 2000 by 12 votes. "You know, this is not all that complicated," Edwards said beforehand in a pep talk to volunteers working the neighborhood. "The bigger the voter turnout, the more likely that John Kerry will be president of the United States."
Senior Kerry adviser Mike McCurry told reporters Sunday that in the next 48 hours Kerry will focus less on national security and more on his domestic agenda for middle-income Americans, and the need for change. "We are confident; we are going to bring this home," McCurry said.
The candidates' schedules reflect their priorities, aides said. Kerry later held events in Ohio and Iowa, two states where the outcome is far from certain. While in Ohio, he made himself available for telephone interviews with reporters in Hawaii, a state once thought to be safely in the Democratic column that has become competitive enough to prompt a visit by Cheney.
Bush spent most of Sunday in Florida, appearing at three rallies before flying to Ohio for the night. He gave an interview in Florida to NBC's Tom Brokaw and predicted: "Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin -- these are all states I did not win last time that I believe I'm going to carry this time."
Allen is traveling with Bush. Staff writers John Wagner, traveling with Edwards, and Lyndsey Layton, traveling with Cheney, contributed to this report.