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Bush makes campaign appearance in state

By Jennifer Loven

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- President Bush pulled out his tough-on-terrorism speech from his last campaign and said on Friday that the United States would wage an unrelenting battle in Iraq to protect Americans at home.

"Our short-term objective is to stay on the hunt and bring the killers to justice before they hurt us again," the president said at a political event. "I'd rather be defeating them there than face them here at home."

Bush spoke at a fundraiser that took in over $1 million for Rep. Mark Kennedy, the presumptive Republican nominee for the state's open Senate seat, and the state GOP.

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The event was a delicate balancing act for Kennedy -- who needs Bush's fundraising muscle to keep his war chest growing but also has been making some effort to distance himself from a president who has been down in the polls.

"This is a Senator Kennedy I can work with," Bush told hundreds of wealthy Republican supporters at a $1,000-a-plate luncheon at a downtown hotel, comparing the GOP candidate with the famously liberal Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. "He's the right person for the job."

Bush made the war on terrorism the central element of his re-election campaign and it resonated with voters. He emphasized that theme on Friday, saying that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 demonstrated that the United States must deal with the world as it really is.

To prove his independence to skeptical moderates in the traditionally Democratic state, Kennedy's campaign has highlighted his opposition to a key Bush priority, drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and to Bush's No Child Left Behind education reforms.

Minnesota Democrats say they're not buying it, pointing to a record that shows Kennedy has voted with the White House 97 percent of the time.

They welcomed Bush's arrival in Minnesota, hoping that his low approval ratings would be radioactive for any Republican aligned with the president.

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