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Kerry and Bush bask in Red Sox win

TOLEDO, Ohio — Democratic Sen. John Kerry, a self-proclaimed resident of Red Sox Nation, donned a Boston cap Thursday and hailed his hometown team's first World Series championship in 86 years.

Not to be outdone, President Bush followed the White House custom and placed a congratulatory call to team owner John Henry, president Larry Lucchino and manager Terry Francona as well as pitcher Curt Schilling, who made his backing of Bush known to millions on TV.

Competitive over all things — including baseball — Kerry and Bush sought to bask in the Red Sox win, a four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals for Boston's first title since 1918.

Kerry, wearing a Red Sox cap as he bounded into a morning rally in Toledo, recalled someone phoning a radio show early in the campaign and saying, "John Kerry won't be president until the Red Sox win the World Series." He exclaimed, "Well, we're on our way!"

Not everybody felt that way. Schilling, interviewed on ABC's "Good Morning America," said, "Tell everybody to vote. And vote Bush next week."

The Red Sox pitcher will appear with the Republican incumbent on Friday at campaign stops in New Hampshire, a crucial swing state that Bush narrowly won in 2000.

Word of Schilling's decision to campaign with the president prompted the Kerry campaign to list what it said were Bush missteps when he was owner of the Texas Rangers.

"Every member of Red Sox Nation tips their cap to Curt Schilling, but Sox fans know that if George Bush had his way 'the curse of the Bambino' would be alive and well," said Kerry spokesman David Wade. "George Bush was the only owner to vote against creating the wild card for baseball's playoffs."

The Red Sox reached the playoffs only as a "wild card" after finishing second to the New York Yankees in their American League division.

Bush, as managing general partner of the Texas Rangers from 1989 to 1994, was a baseball traditionalist who opposed interleague play and the addition of a wild card playoff team to the postseason arrangement.

The Kerry camp also was quick to point out that another Red Sox owner, Tom Werner, has been campaigning for Kerry in New Hampshire.

Kerry said, "I've been rooting for this day since I was a kid. . . . This Red Sox team came back against all odds and showed America what heart is. In 2004, the Red Sox are America's team."

Some Red Sox fans have spoken of a "curse" that has held their team back since the owner sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920.