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Bush Portrays Kerry As a Waffler


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Bush Portrays Kerry As a Waffler


Associated Press Writer



WASHINGTON - President Bush, casting aside his desire to appear above the political fray, struck back at his Democratic critics, portraying presidential front-runner John Kerry as a waffler and warning that Democrats would raise taxes, expand government and fail to lead decisively on national security.


Bush had hung back for months, despite constant pummeling by the Democratic presidential candidates. But he leveled his sharpest criticism yet at his rivals in a speech Monday night. Bush recalled terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, signaling his willingness to use the strikes for political gain, which his aides long had promised would not be done.


"September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. I remember a lot that day," Bush told 1,400 Republican donors at a fund-raiser for GOP governors, recalling his trip to New York after the attacks.


"As we all did that day, these men and women searching through the rubble took it personally. I took it personally," he said. "I have a responsibility that goes on. I will never relent in bringing justice to our enemies. I will defend America, whatever it takes."


Kerry, a senator from Massachusetts, found himself fending off both Bush and his chief rival, fellow Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, heading into nominating contests Tuesday in Hawaii, Idaho and Utah.


But both Democratic rivals are looking ahead to the 10 states, California and New York among them, with nominating contests on March 2, also known as Super Tuesday, where Kerry hopes to knock off Edwards.


Kerry will spend more than $1 million this week - nearly five times as much as Edwards - to run campaign ads in media markets in Ohio, Georgia and New York, which vote March 2, aides said. Edwards has bought about $270,000 of ad time in those states thus far.


Bush, meanwhile, has prepared ads for an advertising onslaught that is to start March 4. His re-election campaign will buy airtime over the next two weeks in selected broadcast markets and nationally on cable stations, including CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC, according to a Bush-Cheney campaign source, speaking on the condition of anonymity.


Edwards was campaigning Tuesday in Atlanta with Georgia lawmakers, before heading to Houston for a rally. Kerry was in Ohio, touring a closed steel mill with laid-off workers and talking with workers at a revitalized factory.


In his 40-minute address, Bush mentioned none of the Democratic presidential candidates by name, but some of his sharpest criticism was unmistakably intended for Kerry.


"The other party's nomination battle is still playing out. The candidates are an interesting group with diverse opinions," Bush said. "They're for tax cuts and against them. They're for NAFTA and against NAFTA. They're for the Patriot Act and against the Patriot Act. They're in favor of liberating Iraq, and opposed to it. And that's just one senator from Massachusetts." His supportive audience erupted in laughter and applause.


Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter disputed Bush's list of purported flip-flops. Kerry opposed Bush's tax cuts for the richest Americans and stands by that; voted for NAFTA and stands by it; voted for the Patriot Act, but believes the Justice Department is using it to trample civil liberties; and stands by his vote to authorize force in Iraq, but believes Bush's prosecution of the war "created a breeding ground for terror" and alienated allies, Cutter said.


Edwards denounced Bush's new rhetoric. "The American people want this campaign to be about the future, not the past," he said. "We offer leadership and hope, the Republicans want to exploit fears and relitigate the past."


Bush said the Nov. 2 election presents "a choice between keeping the tax relief that is moving this economy forward, or putting the burden of higher taxes back on the American people."


"It's a choice between an America that leads the world with strength and confidence, or an America that is uncertain in the face of danger," he said.


Kerry said Bush sounded as if the past three and a half years had never happened.


"But the American people haven't forgotten this president's failed record, because they have to live with it every day," he said in a statement. "George Bush's credibility is running out with the American people. They want change in America, and I'm running because I am determined to bring that change and put America back on track."


Earlier Monday, Bush tried to shrug off such criticism as election-year posturing. "It's going to be the year of the sharp elbow and the quick tongue," he told governors of both parties at the White House.

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You know, I don't see how raised taxes are such an issue. It's not like the taxes raise so dramatically it puts someone out of a house and home. I'm willing to pay more on my soday and DVD's to have an idiot out of the White House.


Fortunately, I don't know if Kerry's the answer. He's been kind of wishy-washy on certain subjects.


But you knew 9/11 was going to come into play, with Bush portraying himself as the hero who led us through dark times.

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Good article on Bush the panderer.






WASHINGTON (Creators Syndicate) -- President George W. Bush's occasional broken syntax is not a felony.


Last week's presidential primary in South Carolina reminded me of the ugly brawl between then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush and U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., four years earlier in the Palmetto state when an exasperated Bush criticized McCain: "The Senator has got to understand if he's going to have -- he can't have it both ways. He can't take the high horse and then claim the low road."


Who can forget LaCrosse , Wisc., only eight months later, where Bush declared: "Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream." To his credit, at a Washington dinner, the president showed he could laugh at these "Bushisms" when he quoted humorist Garrison Keillor's observation that "George W. Bush's lips are where words go to die."


But there are a couple of things this president says repeatedly that truly drive me bananas. For example, because the president's one-size-fits-all remedy for every social ill from joblessness to double-parking is more tax-cuts, the president must have told me three or four dozen times by now that "it's your money."


Not only that, but opponents of Bush's tax cuts, according to the president, just "want more money in Washington" and "don't want to let the people keep their own money." President Bush and his administration, you should know, "trust the American people more than we trust the government."


George W. Bush is a Giant "Pander-Bear." With such talk, he asks me -- at a time of war when my fellow Americans are dying -- for no sacrifice. He essentially absolves me of civic responsibility to my fellow citizens and to my national community. He flatters my vanity. He indulges my selfishness.


You begin to wonder if the president or anyone near him knows that of the 53.7 million American children who will go to school today from kindergarten to grade 12, nearly nine out of 10 of them will go to public schools.


The most advantaged and the most privileged do not depend on public education or public safety for their family's personal security, or public parks for their recreation. If you're wealthy enough, you can purchase all of these services privately.


But the vast majority of Americans depend every hour of every day on public services provided by their government and funded by our tax dollars.


Government is far from perfect. It is flawed and can be unresponsive. But make no mistakes about it, government does good things I want done for my country but which I cannot do alone.


Because of the federal government, I know the medicine prescribed for my family is safe. Because of the federal government, more than three-fourths of the nation's rivers and streams are today swimmable and fishable, while only 30 years ago, three-quarters of those same rivers -- because of industrial waste and untreated sewage -- were unswimmable and unfishable.


Because of the federal government, financed by the tax dollars we sent to Washington, polio was cured, the poverty rate among senior citizens has been cut by 70 percent, 289 million visitors annually enjoy our national parks and monuments, the airplane trips we take are safe, and the civil right of every American to vote is secure.


Four out of five Americans who today attend college do not go to a Yale or a Princeton or a Duke or a Georgetown or any other private school. They go instead to a public college or university that is financed by tax dollars.


So do me a favor, President, treat us like grown-ups. We know that even if we kept every nickel of taxes, we would not be able individually to do the urgently important tasks our federal government does to make our nation safer, healthier, more prosperous and more just.


And remember the wisdom of a great Republican predecessor of yours, Theodore Roosevelt, who said, "We are the government; the government is us."

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