George W Bush and John Kerry have traded accusations over the war on terror following al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden's latest video message.
Mr Bush attacked Mr Kerry's record on the war on terror
On one of his last campaign stops before Tuesday's presidential election, Mr Bush accused his rival of choosing "the path of weakness and inaction".
For his part, Mr Kerry said President Bush had missed the chance to capture Bin Laden when he was cornered.
The exchanges came a day after Bin Laden warned of more attacks on the US.
In a video message broadcast on Arabic television channel al-Jazeera, he accused Mr Bush of deceiving the American people in the three years since the 11 September 2001 attacks.
"The reasons are still there to repeat what happened," he said.
Correspondents say the video has thrust the issue of terrorism back to the top of the US election agenda.
They describe it as a reminder from Bin Laden that he remains a threat.
Mr Bush held a video conference call with his key national security aides on Saturday morning to discuss the Bin Laden message before addressing supporters in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The president did not mention Bin Laden by name in his campaign speech, but said: "The outcome of this election will set the direction of the war against terror."
He called into question Mr Kerry's credentials on the issue.
Mr Kerry pledged to make America safer
"In times of war and in hours of crisis, Senator Kerry has turned his back on 'pay any price' and 'bear any burden', and he's replaced those commitments with 'wait and see' and 'cut and run'," Mr Bush said.
Mr Kerry, campaigning in the town of Appleton, Wisconsin, promised to provide better anti-terror leadership than Mr Bush.
"As I have said for two years now, when Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda were cornered in the mountains of Tora Bora, it was wrong to outsource the job of capturing them to Afghan warlords who a week earlier were fighting against us," he said.
In the video message, Bin Laden made his clearest claim of responsibility yet for the 11 September 2001 attacks.
"Oh American people, my talk to you is about the best way to avoid another Manhattan - about the war, its causes and results," he said.
He also accused Mr Bush of incompetence, saying the attacks on the US would have been less severe if the president had been more alert.
The al-Qaeda leader likened the Bush administration to Arab regimes, saying both were characterised by "hubris, arrogance, greed and unlawful acquisition of money".
He tried to appropriate the language of the Bush administration, dismissing Mr Bush's regular claims that al-Qaeda militants "hate freedom".
"We fought you because we are free and do not accept injustice," he said.
"Your security does not lie in the hands of Kerry, Bush, or al-Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands. Each and every state that does not tamper with our security will have automatically assured its own security."