Kerry changes plans, sets up trip to Fulton

Thursday, April 29, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:25 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

The battle to win Missouri in this year’s presidential election continues Friday in Fulton, where Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry will speak at 1 p.m. in the Westminster College gymnasium.

Kerry had planned to make a campaign stop in Springfield on Friday. But his plans changed Tuesday, a day after Vice President Dick Cheney attacked Kerry’s political record on the floor of the college’s gymnasium. After Cheney’s speech, Westminster College President Fletcher Lamkin invited Kerry to speak to students, staff, faculty and trustees.

Missouri Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell announced Wednesday that Kerry’s speech will be positive and will outline his plan for peace in Iraq.

“I think he’ll probably draw a contrast between his plan and what the current plans are,” Maxwell said. “It’s very difficult not to do that. John Kerry is not coming to town to just criticize others. He’s coming here to lay out his plan for a future for this country.”

Between 300 and 400 tickets to Kerry’s speech will be distributed on campus today, said Mike Odneal, a Westminster College spokesman. The rest of the tickets will be distributed by the Democratic Party headquarters in Jefferson City, Odneal said.

Doors will open two hours before Kerry’s speech starts, although Odneal recommended ticket holders arrive early. About 200 ticket holders were turned away from Cheney’s speech because security measures delayed the flow of people entering the gymnasium, he said.

Maxwell said Cheney misled the Westminster College’s president and community by attacking Kerry in Monday’s speech.

“The war on terror is not a cheap political prop that should be politicized,” Maxwell said.

Cheney sharply criticized Kerry at the college Monday in an address widely publicized as a “major foreign policy announcement.” The vice president praised President George W. Bush’s stance on national security, including his call for renewal of the Patriot Act. Cheney also attacked Kerry’s voting record on intelligence and military spending, and he mocked Kerry’s claim that foreign leaders supported his campaign.

Bill Benoit, an MU professor of communication, said Missouri’s 11 electoral votes puts the state near the top of crucial battleground states in the November election. Maxwell said it is too early to tell whether Missouri will vote Republican or Democratic in November’s election and that Missourians will likely “remain on the bubble” throughout most of the race.

Kerry spokesman Bill Burton said Kerry plans to reschedule his visit to Springfield within the next two months. U.S. Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., will rally veterans there in two weeks, Burton said.

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