O'Malley stumps for Kerry in Wisconsin

Mayor says Democrat would support cities in fight against terrorism

Election 2004

October 27, 2004|By Julie Hirschfeld Davis | Julie Hirschfeld Davis,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

GREEN BAY, Wis. - Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley joined Sen. John Kerry on the presidential campaign trail in this battleground state yesterday, praising the senator's homeland security plans and predicting he would be "a commander in chief who is willing to invest in America to protect America."

O'Malley - flanked by the Democratic mayors of Los Angeles; Providence, R.I.; Southfield, Mich.; and Trenton, N.J. - said he spoke for thousands of other mayors as he accused President Bush of shortchanging local security when law enforcement officers and first responders were facing heavy new burdens.

"For the last three years, while the mayors of America have struggled to support the expanded mission that our firefighters and police have been given after the attacks of 9/11, we have watched [them] shoulder this new mission without the help of their federal government," O'Malley said.

"In fact, quite to the contrary, to our horror, we have watched as George W. Bush has cut the very programs which we had relied on to support our first responders."

O'Malley, who co-chairs a Democratic mayors' task force on homeland security, said Kerry's plans to restore funding Bush has cut for police officers and firefighters would relieve cities' burden.

"Senator Kerry understands that America can't win a war on two fronts without funding a war on two fronts," O'Malley said.

"We can only become safer when we elect a commander in chief who is willing to invest in America to protect America."

O'Malley's brief comments preceded Kerry's speech, which outlined his homeland security proposals, including a pledge to spend $60 billion more than Bush has budgeted over the next decade to revive a Clinton-era community policing program, add 100,000 firefighters and bolster security at borders, ports and chemical plants.

"George Bush still hasn't done what's necessary to protect America, because he's too busy protecting his tax cuts for the wealthy and the well-connected," Kerry said.

Bush also trotted out mayors to back up his assertion that he is the best candidate to protect America. He campaigned Monday with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor who has come to personify the domestic response to the Sept. 11 attacks.

And the Bush campaign unveiled a new TV ad yesterday featuring Giuliani, a Republican, and Edward I. Koch, a Democrat who was mayor of New York from 1978 to 1989, lauding Bush's homeland security efforts.

"That's right, even me," Koch says in the ad, "a lifelong Democrat. I've been impressed with President Bush and his response to the September 11th attacks, and I know he has what it takes to win the war on terror."

O'Malley said the two former mayors were out of touch with security demands weighing on cities. He faulted Koch in particular, who says in the ad he is supporting a Republican for president for the first time. Koch campaigned yesterday in West Palm Beach, Fla., with Vice President Dick Cheney.

"Ed Koch has been out of circulation for a long time," O'Malley said. "He might not understand the burdens that we're under in our cities today."

But O'Malley saved his strongest words for Bush, who he said is "trying to fight this war on the cheap, and yet we still let him get up there and wrap himself in the images of Rudy Giuliani and the firefighters who died" on Sept. 11.

"It's dishonesty," O'Malley said in a brief interview. "It turns your stomach."

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