They are the “most crooked ... lying group of people I've ever seen."

By Nobel Johns

– You can tell when things are going bad for a crooked liar; they will try anything to survive. This is how it is with the crooks in the Bush administration. They want an apology for this reason, an TV ad cancelled for that reason, and all-in-all, if they can’t steal this election this time, they plan to play the biggest wolfing game to try to “bully and scare” the American people into voting for stupid Bush and crooked Cheney even though the whole world knows they are no good!.

Now, the Bush campaign is demanding an apology from Sen. John Kerry after the Democratic nominee called his Republican opponents the "most crooked ... lying group of people I've ever seen."

A Kerry spokesman later said the senator wasn't referring to the president but to those behind what he characterized as a GOP attack "machine."

If I were Kerry. I certainly wouldn’t back down from the statement —I tell you what God loves —the truth, the Bush administration is the most crooked in the history, and that’s the truth!

But the chairman of the Bush re-election campaign, former Montana Gov. Mark Racicot, isn't buying it. He says Kerry should apologize; right, and tell a lie.

"Senator Kerry's statement ... was unbecoming of a candidate for the presidency of the United States," Racicot said.

On Wednesday, Kerry told a gathering of AFL-CIO union leaders that Bush is "the last person left in America who actually believes his failed policies will ever work."

"We have a president who seems content to see the quality of life in America go backwards, not forwards," Kerry said. "I'm not. ... Americans watch this White House waste their tax dollars in some cases and give those who cut corners and break laws special benefits, while those who do what's right get the short end of the stick."

Kerry told the AFL-CIO leaders, who have endorsed him, that "this is the most important race of our generation."

"This is the most significant moment of crony government and crony capitalism that I've seen in my political life. And we've learned the truth of what George Bush thinks -- exporting our jobs is good economic policy. I believe that creating jobs here in America, keeping good jobs here and exporting goods, is good for our economy."

After he finished his address via satellite from Chicago, Kerry turned around to speak with a group of union workers standing behind him when the feed ended. The conversation was picked up by his microphone, even though he was speaking quietly and assistants were removing it.

"Keep smiling," one man said to him.

Kerry responded, "Oh yeah, don't worry, man. We're going to keep pounding, let me tell you -- we're just beginning to fight here. These guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group of people I've ever seen."

"It's scary," replied another worker.

Kerry campaign official David Wade later told reporters that Kerry knew his microphone was on. Wade said Kerry was not calling Bush crooked but was instead referring to Republicans who launched "crooked, deceitful, personal attacks over the last four years."

Among the examples Wade cited were comments made about former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia during his failed re-election campaign in 2002 and about Sen. John McCain of Arizona during his race against Bush in 2000 for the GOP nomination, as well as doctored photographs placing Kerry alongside Jane Fonda during protests against the Vietnam War.

Blaming the incidents on a GOP attack "machine," Wade said, "We are going to make it very clear that [Kerry's] a Democrat who punches back."

But Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt, in a statement, chided Kerry for claiming "to be the victim of an imaginary smear machine."

"John Kerry has run a relentlessly negative campaign from the very beginning, and this comment is completely consistent with that," Schmidt said. "He has offered no plan or positive agenda for the country and has based his entire campaign on a series of false and inaccurate attacks." "We have seen that again today when he attacked tax relief for American workers. His campaign-trail promises mean he is going to raise taxes by at least $900 billion."

Kerry has called for repeal of some of Bush's tax cuts, which Republicans insist would amount to tax increases. However, Kerry has said he wants to retain the tax cuts geared to people in the middle class, whom he says face burdens from higher property taxes and rising costs for health care and education.

Meanwhile, McCain, R-Arizona, found himself briefly in the spotlight Wednesday when he appeared to entertain the notion that he could be Kerry's running mate.

But his office later released a statement making it clear that the maverick Republican was not interested in the Democratic running mate slot.

Bush pushes his economic policy

The president traveled Wednesday to Ohio, a key battleground state that has lost more than 160,000 manufacturing jobs over the past four years. No Republican has won the White House without carrying Ohio, which has an unemployment rate of 6.2 percent, above the national average of 5.6 percent.

Bush carried the state with a 4-point spread in 2000, and Kerry is expected to make a major push this fall to switch the Buckeye State to his column.

Speaking to a group of small businesswomen in Cleveland, Bush accused Democrats of following a "tired, defeatist mindset" in their economic proposals and failing to recognize the benefits from his tax cuts and other policy initiatives.

Speaking a week after the Labor Department reported February job creation at 21,000 jobs -- lower than expected -- Bush said he is committed to job growth.

"Some politicians in Washington see this new challenge, yet want to respond in old ways. Their agenda is to increase federal taxes, to build a wall around this country and to isolate America from the rest of the world. They never get around to explaining how higher taxes would help create a single job in America, except maybe at the IRS."

Bush said "our economy is expanding, productivity is strong, unemployment has been falling, incomes are rising -- and we're going to stay on this path of growth and prosperity in this country."

Without mentioning Kerry specifically, Bush said some politicians are pushing for "isolationism."

"They don't explain how closing off markets ... abroad would help the millions of Americans who produce goods for export or work for foreign corporations here in the U.S.," he said. "That old policy of tax and spend is the enemy of job creation."

Kerry to meet with black caucus, Edwards
Kerry, left, meets Wednesday with former rival Howard Dean.

Kerry is sheduled on Thursday to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus and later with primary rival Sen. John Edwards, who dropped out of the race last week.

The presumptive nominee met Wednesday with another of his vanquished rivals, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, whose supporters and donors he has been trying to woo. He also visited the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee for what DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe called "a great discussion" about strategy for the fall.

Dean did not offer an endorsement of Kerry and emerged from the meeting without speaking to reporters. But he later issued a statement describing their conversation as "a very good meeting," saying he would "work closely" with Kerry to beat Bush in November.

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