White House, Kerry exchange accusations
WASHINGTON - The White House and Sen. John Kerry traded their harshest accusations since the 2004 presidential race on Tuesday, with President Bush accusing the Democrat of troop-bashing and Kerry calling the president's men hacks who are "willing to lie."
The war of words, tough even for this hard-fought campaign season, came after Kerry told a group of California students on Monday that those unable to navigate the country's education system "get stuck in Iraq."
The two parties are searching for any edge amid indications Democrats could take back the House and possibly win control of the Senate in next week's midterm elections. Though neither Bush nor Kerry is on any ballot, the bitterness with which they fought each other as 2004 rivals spilled over as both campaign hard for their parties in a race shaped in large measure by public doubts about the Iraq war.
White House press secretary Tony Snow was asked about Kerry's comment at his regular briefing with reporters, and had clearly come prepared with a lengthy attack. He said the quote "fits a pattern" of negative remarks about U.S. soldiers from the decorated Vietnam veteran and suggested that whether Democratic candidates â particularly those running on their military service backgrounds agree with their 2004 standard-bearer should be a campaign litmus test.