Rochester, Minn. — Kerry continued to step up his attacks on President Bush, telling a capacity crowd at the Mayo Civic Center that Bush's leadership has failed on the economy and national security. Kerry accused Bush of "dodging and bobbing and weaving" on explanations for nearly 400 tons of missing explosives in Iraq.
Bush said his presidential challenger was making wild charges without knowing the facts.
Kerry spoke to about 7,500 people inside the Mayo Civic Center while hundreds more waited outside in a slight mist, listening to Kerry's speech on speakers.
Kerry also criticized the Bush administration for attempting to block the importation prescription drugs from Canada.
"We're going to allow people to import from Canada. Can you get over these guys? They're for free market except when it applies to their friends and their campaign contributors, they want to create a monopoly. Not on my watch, folks. You're going to import from Canada."
Kerry also told the crowd in Rochester, home of the Mayo Clinic, that he would be more supportive of scientific research than Bush, particularly when it came to the use of human embryonic stem cells.
"We're going to do stem cell research in America," Kerry said. "We're going to do it."
Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty defended Bush, saying that the president was the first to fund any form of stem cell research.
"He's done more than anybody else has," Pawlenty said.
The visit marks Kerry's eighth to Minnesota this year and his second this fall. Last week, Kerry rallied about 30,000 supporters in Minneapolis and Bush held a smaller gathering at an airport hangar in Rochester.
Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., said perhaps Kerry could make use of Mayo's diagnostic equipment while he was in town.
"Maybe it would be a better use of his time to undergo one of those CAT scans and see what is in his head and what is in his heart," Coleman said.
Not everyone agrees with President Bush on issues but they know where he stands, Coleman said. "George Bush has gone through the CAT scan. He has been under the microscope."
Bush is scheduled to hold a rally Saturday at Target Center in Minneapolis, and Vice President Dick Cheney and vice presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards have each been to Minnesota once this week. For Thursday, Cheney planned a campaign stop in International Falls and Edwards is expected in Duluth.
Joe Peschek, a political analyst from Hamline University, said Wednesday's visit was meant to do more than talk to Rochester voters.
"I think he's trying to reach across the border" into media markets in northern Iowa and western Wisconsin, Peschek said. Although the city tends to back Republican candidates, there are moderate and liberal voters there. "I think he wants to not rely entirely on the Twin Cities metro area."
Pam Zeimetz, 31, is one of those Democrats in Rochester. She was in the crowd outside listening to the Kerry speech. She said she didn't see anyone leave, despite the weather.
"I think this many people coming out is overwhelming," she said, adding that she often felt surrounded by the Republicans majority in town. "I'm surprised at what Rochester was able to show him."
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)