Tue, Jul 06, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Kerry finds liberal values tough sell in the heartland

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE INDEPENDENCE , IOWA

Senator John Kerry wound up his tour of the heartland on Sunday with an attack on the Bush administration's definition of values and a defense of his own, including his position on abortion.

Kerry's final day of his three-state bus tour was filled with the trappings of small-town America on the Fourth of July, including a parade through the streets of the small town of Cascade and a baseball game played in the corn field featured in the movie Field of Dreams.

But Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, also confronted, implicitly and explicitly, charges by Republicans that his values are out of step with those of rural and small-town voters. At a barbecue here, he argued that there was "nothing conservative" about values that produced growing deficits, stagnating wages and a middle class squeezed by rising costs for health care, education and child care, all of which he tied to President George W. Bush.

Moreover, Kerry, a Roman Catholic, added: "I'm a person of faith, and I know I'm surrounded by people of faith. But there's nothing conservative about allowing your administration to cross that beautiful line drawn by the founding fathers that separates affairs of church and state in the United States of America."

Kerry also dealt with the issue so often cited by Republicans as evidence that he is outside the mainstream on abortion. Kerry has a 100 percent voting record with Naral Pro-Choice America, an advocacy group, and has often spoken about his commitment to abortion rights and the appointment of judges who will uphold them.

But in an interview with the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, published Sunday, Kerry emphasized his personal opposition to abortion. He also tried to counter the criticism from within his church hierarchy that an elected official could not advocate the right to abortion and be a good Catholic. Kerry said he was abiding by both his conscience and the line between church and state.

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