Kerry Proposes Mandatory Warnings on Exported Jobs
GOP Chairman Criticizes Sen. Kerry’s Record
By Nedra Pickler
The Associated Press
Wednesday, February 25, 2004; 5:00 PM
Presidential hopeful John Kerry said Wednesday he would require companies to give their employees a three-month warning before sending their jobs abroad, blaming President Bush for job losses in an appeal to displaced workers in the Democratic battleground state of Ohio.
"I won't come here and tell you that if I'm president all of Ohio's factories will spring back to life, that all the rivers of steel will flow again," Kerry said in a speech at the University of Toledo. "You wouldn't believe me if I did, and you'd be right."
The Massachusetts senator said he will require companies that ship jobs offshore to tell the Labor Department and the workers when, where and why the jobs are moving.
"Companies will no longer be able to surprise their workers with a pink slip instead of a paycheck," he said.
Kerry's major rival for the nomination, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, also supports the idea. He and Kerry are co-sponsors of legislation in the Senate that would require the 90-day notification.
Kerry's proposal comes as he appears more likely to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination. He easily captured victories in Utah, Idaho and Hawaii Tuesday night and has a commanding lead over Edwards in polls in key Super Tuesday contests next week in California, New York and Ohio.
Edwards is most competitive in Georgia, one of several states where he has been dauntlessly focusing his underdog campaign. Kerry held an 8-percentage point advantage over Edwards in the latest Georgia survey.
In Georgia, Kerry began airing a TV ad Wednesday aimed at courting veterans. It features former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, a Vietnam veteran and triple amputee, praising Kerry. "He's been tested on the battlefield, he's been tested in the United States Senate, and now he's ready to be president of the United States," Cleland says.
During his visit to Toledo, Kerry also picked up an endorsement from former astronaut and retired Sen. John Glenn, a venerable figure in Ohio politics who said he was making his first endorsement in a primary race.
Kerry, speaking with ashes on his forehead to mark the beginning of Lent, said 270,000 Ohio workers have lost their jobs during the Bush years. He was set to launch a campaign ad in the Buckeye State and in New York describing Bush's economic policy as "an astonishing failure" and promising to protect U.S. jobs. The commercial also is meant to soften criticism of Kerry's vote for a free-trade pact.
Two weeks after the president's chief economic adviser called the shipping of American jobs abroad "just a new way of doing international trade," Kerry said Bush lavished special favors on corporations while workers lost their jobs, their pensions and their retirement savings.
"Under this administration, America's middle class has been abandoned -- its dreams denied, its Main Street interests ignored and its mainstream values scorned by a White House that puts privilege first," Kerry said.
Bush spokesman Scott Stanzel said Kerry "would put the brakes on our economic recovery."
"His plans for higher taxes, more regulation and more litigation would kill jobs in this country," Stanzel said.
While meeting Wednesday morning with about 30 workers at a steel plant in Cleveland, Kerry said he would review all trade agreements in his first four months in office. He said he would not sign the Central American Free Trade Agreement or the Free Trade of the Americas Agreement without protections for labor and environmental standards.
"I don't want to be protectionist because I think that's the wrong thing to do for America, but I think what we have to do is be smart," he said.
In Washington, Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie summoned reporters to a news conference to criticize Kerry's 19-year Senate voting record, arguing that it showed a lack of judgment and raised questions about credibility.
Gillespie cited Kerry's votes for anti-terrorism legislation, an education measure and a free-trade pact, and his subsequent criticism of the Bush administration. "There are any number of things where Senator Kerry has gone back and forth on issues and raised a credibility question," Gillespie said.
He defended Republicans who have assailed Kerry's votes on defense, saying they were not questioning the patriotism of the senator and decorated Vietnam War veteran. Gillespie released a letter from six House Republicans in which they said they were "glad" that Kerry was proud of his military service, "but that does not excuse your history of votes."
In response, the Kerry campaign arranged a conference call for reporters with Cleland and Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., a senior member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, who defended the candidate's voting record.
"Give me a commander in chief who's going to have some skepticism about certain programs if they're not working," Dicks said.
© 2004 The Associated Press