Kerry Blasts Bush's Daytona 'Photo Op'
By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer
WAUSAU, Wis. - A confident John Kerry (news - web sites) launched a full-throttle attack on President Bush (news - web sites)'s economic policies, mostly ignoring his Democratic rivals on the eve of the Wisconsin primary. Howard Dean (news - web sites)'s campaign shed another top manager and John Edwards (news - web sites) vowed to press on no matter how he fares Tuesday.
Kerry, who has a commanding lead in the race to oppose Bush this fall, chided the president for taking time out Sunday to attend the Daytona 500, saying the country was bleeding jobs while he posed for a "photo opportunity." Bush had donned a racing jacket to officially open NASCAR (news - web sites)'s most prestigious event in front of some 180,000 fans.
"We don't need a president who just says, `Gentlemen start your engines,'" Kerry said. "We need a president who says, `America, let's start our economy and put people back to work.'"
Kerry for the most part has chosen in recent days to aim his Campaign 2004 rhetoric directly at Bush as he has lapped his competitors, winning all but the South Carolina and Oklahoma delegate-selection contests.
His broadside against Bush came as the president argued anew against any rollback in the tax cuts that Congress has passed at his behest, and on a day in which Dean divulged the departure of national campaign chairman Steve Grossman.
For his part Edwards declared "there are differences" with his Democratic rivals and said he was confident his campaign was gaining momentum. He said he would remain in the race well into March and the Super Tuesday round of electoral faceoffs.
Dean told reporters: "Let me remind you all that I have more delegates than everybody else in this race except John Kerry. So I think the campaign obituaries that some of you are writing are a little bit misplaced."
Kerry's latest criticism of Bush came during a town hall meeting at Northcentral Technical College, where he toured the school's machine tool lab and posed for press pictures with students who engraved an 40-pound aluminum plaque with "Wisconsin Backs Kerry in 2004."