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Bush to visit Polk County instead of St. Petersburg

Another hurricane, another canceled presidential campaign stop.

President Bush has scrapped his plans to campaign in St. Petersburg on Friday and will instead return to Florida today to survey hurricane damage in Polk County. On the eve of his first debate against John Kerry in Miami, the president is scheduled to be in Lake Wales this afternoon taking a walking tour of orange groves and then spend the night in Miami.

Aides said Friday's campaign stops in St. Petersburg and Fort Myers were canceled to show sensitivity to hurricane victims. But the president is likely to reschedule them.

"The trip was just postponed," said Reed Dickens, a spokesman for the Bush campaign. "We will be coming to Florida many times before the election."

This was the third Tampa Bay area campaign event the Bush-Cheney campaign has canceled in recent weeks because of hurricanes. John Kerry's running mate, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, planned to campaign in the area last weekend, but canceled because of Hurricane Jeanne.

Meanwhile, Kerry will fly into Fort Lauderdale tonight and hold a campaign rally at the airport. He is tentatively planning to campaign in Tampa and Orlando on Friday and Saturday, though details have not been set.

Nader visits Tampa today as part of Florida tour

TAMPA _ He won't be on stage for Thursday's presidential debate but Ralph Nader will be in Tampa tonight to speak up about issues he says John Kerry and George Bush are ignoring.

"I want to hear them talk about a living family wage," Nader said by phone Tuesday, during the first day of a campaign swing through Florida.

Nader will hold an 8 p.m. rally at Centro Asturiano, 1913 Nebraska Ave. in Tampa. It will be open to the public. He campaigned Tuesday in West Palm Beach, hits Tampa Bay today, and plans to be in Miami Thursday for the debate.

He will be on the ballot in Florida as a nominee of the Reform Party, despite efforts by Democrats in Florida and other states to keep him off ballots, where he could pull votes from John Kerry.