In Md., Kerry assails Bush on schools, health, economy

Democratic front-runner makes first appearance in state on eve of primary

Election 2004

Super Tuesday

March 02, 2004|By Ariel Sabar | Ariel Sabar,SUN STAFF

Sen. John Kerry roused a crowd of Maryland supporters yesterday with a speech assailing President Bush's record on the economy, the war on terror and the public schools.

"All across this country people are beginning to understand that the real deficit of our nation is not just the money," Kerry told a morning audience at Morgan State University in Baltimore.

"The real deficit of this nation is the problems that mayors like Martin O'Malley are having to face as they are struggling with the school system and can't find the money. The real problem of this country are people all across this nation who are out of work and out of health care."

The rally before about 500 people at a nearly full campus gym was the Democratic front-runner's first campaign stop in Maryland, one of 10 states voting in today's Super Tuesday presidential primaries.

North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who is hoping for a strong finish in Maryland to dent Kerry's wide lead in the national delegate count, has also made one campaign appearance here, a rally Feb. 20 at Prince George's Community College.

Kerry's 20-minute speech followed fist-pumping introductions by Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes and Reps. Elijah E. Cummings and Steny H. Hoyer, all of whom endorsed the Massachusetts senator last week.

In one of several nods to local institutions yesterday, Kerry described Baltimore as "special to me" because of prostate cancer surgery he underwent a year ago at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He said he could afford treatment there - "the finest health care in the world" - because of his financial resources and Senate health plan.

If elected president, he said, he would work to bring a similar standard of medical care to all Americans.

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