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POLITICS IN BRIEF

In Bush's town, paper picks Kerry

CRAWFORD -- A weekly that bills itself as President Bush's hometown newspaper endorsed Senator John F. Kerry for president, saying the Democratic presidential nominee would restore American dignity. The Lone Star Iconoclast, which has a circulation of 425, said in an editorial dated today that Texans should rate the candidates not by hometown or political party, but by where they intend to take the country. "Four items trouble us the most about the Bush administration: his initiatives to disable the Social Security system, the deteriorating state of the American economy, a dangerous shift away from the basic freedoms established by our founding fathers, and his continuous mistakes regarding Iraq," the editorial said. (AP)

FLORIDA

Governor calls fears about vote 'bogus'

TALLAHASSEE -- Governor Jeb Bush said yesterday that "conspiracy theories" about the state's voting machines are "nonsense," and he criticized former President Jimmy Carter for questioning whether Florida can hold a fair election. Carter said in an opinion piece in Monday's Washington Post that despite changes designed to eliminate voting problems, conditions for a fair election still do not exist in the state. "There is this constant haranguing of nonsense, including President Carter -- which is a surprise to me because I've admired his compassionate actions in his postpresidential period," Bush said. Responding to reporters' questions about a newspaper report in which computer specialists said the touchscreen machines that will be used in Tampa could be subject to tampering, Bush said: "That's bogus. All this conspiracy theory . . . is just ridiculous." (AP)

IOWA

Kerry unprepared to lead, Cheney says

DUBUQUE, Iowa -- Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday called Senator John F. Kerry an indecisive opportunist who is "not prepared to lead America in the war on terror." Cheney acknowledged there are other issues, but he contended that the election was a referendum on who can best keep America safe. "In the present conflict, he has shown endless vacillation and indecision," Cheney said of Kerry during his third trip to Iowa in a month. (AP)

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