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Last Updated: Friday, 30 July, 2004, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Bush and Kerry hit campaign trail
President Bush leaves the White House on Friday
President Bush will visit four states in two days
US President George W Bush and his challenger John Kerry are kicking off multi-state tours, as the race for the White House moves into a new phase.

Mr Kerry embarked on a two-week tour the day after officially accepting the Democratic Party nomination.

Mr Bush rallied supporters in Missouri, resuming his campaign after spending the week at his Texas ranch.

A poll suggests Mr Kerry and running mate John Edwards have widened a small lead over Mr Bush and Dick Cheney.

"I will begin by telling the truth all across America," Mr Kerry told a launch rally in Boston on Friday, before he and Mr Edwards left for Pennsylvania.

Over the next two weeks the pair will cover 3,500 miles (5,600km) and 21 states between them.

John Kerry and John Edwards at a rally on Boston on Friday
John Kerry and John Edwards hope to keep the momentum generated by the convention

Mr Bush began his two-day tour rallying supporters in Missouri.

"I am asking for your vote because so much is still to do - peace, prosperity - we have so much to do to take this country forward," he said.

He was due in Michigan later on Friday - another key battleground state.

On Saturday, he will visit Ohio - his second bus tour of the state in three months - before wrapping up two days of campaigning with a rally in Pennsylvania.

Kerry in the spotlight

In a major speech ending the Democrats' convention in Boston, Mr Kerry promised to fight for a stronger America, criticising the president's handling of the Iraq war and the war on terror.

Mr Kerry hopes the publicity of the last few days will provide a surge in public approval, known as a "bounce".

He nailed it. His finest hour showed what Republicans didn't want to see, that he would take them on both barrels blazing
Gerald Patterson, Alabama

On Friday morning, a Zogby America survey, which canvassed opinion before Mr Kerry's speech, gave the Democratic ticket a 48%-43% lead over Mr Bush and Vice-President Cheney.

That is a three percentage point drop for Mr Bush compared with a similar poll in early July that gave Mr Kerry a 48%-46% lead.

In his speech on Thursday, Mr Kerry drew on his experiences as a soldier in the Vietnam War.

"I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as president," Mr Kerry said.

He sought to contrast himself with Mr Bush by highlighting the faulty intelligence used by the administration ahead of the Iraq conflict.

"I will immediately reform the intelligence system so policy is guided by facts and facts are never distorted by politics," he said.

The BBC's Rob Watson says Mr Kerry's speech went down extremely well with delegates, but the question now is how will it have played in the wider country.

Map showing route of Bush and Kerry campaigns

The BBC's Ian Pannell
"This was John Kerry's chance to sell himself to the electorate"

If elected president, what would John Kerry do for America?
Revitalise the economy
Improve international ties
Bolster social security
Beef up homeland security
Nothing - he's the wrong man for the job
15407 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Vote now closed

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