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Kerry raps Bush trash-talk ads
By David R. Guarino
Saturday, March 13, 2004


Suddenly swamped by attacking Republicans, Democrat John F. Kerry [related, bio] launched a high-cost defense yesterday in ads that blame President Bush [related, bio] for a ``misleading, negative'' start to their campaign.
     Kerry, who based his primary campaign around a feverish anti-Bush message, cried foul that the president's advertising brands the Bay State senator a tax-raiser who is weak on national defense.
     ``Once again, George Bush is misleading America,'' say the Kerry ads, launched in 16 battleground states. ``Doesn't America deserve more from its president than misleading negative ads?''
     Bush on Thursday unveiled his first formal ads since Kerry emerged from the primaries, spots that claim Kerry will raise taxes by more than $900 billion and would ``weaken'' laws needed to ``protect America.''
     The Kerry ads say he has never called for $900 billion in tax hikes and that he wants to cut taxes for the middle class.
     The Bush campaign admits the estimate, which in the ad suggests Kerry would boost spending by $900 billion in his first 100 days in office, is actually a 10-year estimate.
     Kerry, hampered by dwindling cash reserves, won't be able to keep up with the volume of the Bush ad buy in key swing states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and Michigan.
     His ad buy is estimated at about $2 million - a third of Bush's first television swing.
     But Kerry vowed not to stand for the strikes and said his ads merely correct the president's mistakes about his record.
      ``When the Bush campaign misrepresents John Kerry's record or his plans for the future, we will not hesitate to set the record straight,'' said Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill.
     The Democrat found himself under fresh fire from Republicans, who insisted he apologize to the president for the off-mike slight.
     U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said the comment gave the public ``a little glimpse of the real John Kerry [related, bio].''
     Other Republicans continued to hammer Kerry as a clone of liberal U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy [related, bio]. U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) said Republicans think of Kerry as ``Ted Kennedy on a South Beach diet.''


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