Skip to comments.Bush team singles out 'soft' Kerry ["limousine liberal", pro-abortion, pro-gay rights..]
Posted on 02/10/2004 10:48:54 AM PST by Sub-Driver
Bush team singles out 'soft' Kerry By Los Angeles correspondent Robert Lusetich & The Times February 11, 2004 AS the John Kerry juggernaut steams into two key southern states today, the Bush machine has moved to brand the Massachusetts senator a "limousine liberal" who is soft on national security and out of touch with "mainstream America".
Virtually ignoring the other Democrats still in the race to challenge George W. Bush in November, Republican heavyweights have started laying the thematic groundwork for a campaign against the 60-year-old Vietnam War hero.
Senator Kerry, who has won 10 of the first 12 Democratic contests, has double-digit poll leads in both Tennessee and Virginia, where primaries will be held today. If he wins both, it will be a serious setback for the two southern candidates, North Carolina senator John Edwards and Arkansas-born former NATO commander Wesley Clark.
Mr Bush's re-election team, which initially focused on former Vermont governor Howard Dean, is now concentrating full-time on the vast paper trail from Senator Kerry's 20-year political career in an effort to define him on their own terms before the main battle is joined.
Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie has started to characterise Senator Kerry as a liberal in the mould of Ted Kennedy and failed 1988 Democrat candidate Michael Dukakis, who was a governor of Massachusetts.
Terry Holt, spokesman for the campaign to re-elect Mr Bush, called Senator Kerry "an extremely liberal member of the Senate", pointing out that his voting record is pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, pro-environment and pro-gun control, but that he has opposed defence spending and tax cuts.
He is also the richest man in the Senate, thanks to his marriage to Teresa Heinz Kerry, heiress to the $US500 million food fortune.
For his part, Senator Kerry has started taking direct aim at Mr Bush, rather than fighting his rivals for the nomination. "Photo-op after photo-op, the President continues to claim that the economy is improving," he said yesterday.
"But, Mr President, who is the economy improving for? It's more empty promises and false hope for middle-class families."
Recent opinion polls have shown Senator Kerry would beat Mr Bush if an election were held today. However, the polls contain warnings: one in Time magazine, for example, found that 21 per cent of voters would not support him because he was a northeastern liberal.
Political journalists are also being pointed to inconsistencies in Senator Kerry's voting record. He supported Mr Bush's education proposals but now is an ardent critic of them. He supported the Patriot Act after the September 11 attacks but now denounces the legislation. In the 1980s, he did not support capital punishment for a terrorist killing Americans abroad but now has reversed his position. He did not support the 1990 Gulf War but voted for the invasion of Iraq.
On the sensitive swing-voter issue of national security, Senator Kerry, perhaps anticipating the Republicans offensive, now admits his earlier postures were "ill-advised" and "stupid".
But one of his biggest problem issues might be gay marriages, which Mr Bush vehemently opposes. Senator Kerry now says he supports civil unions rather than gay marriages but the Republicans are telling anyone who'll listen that in 1996 he was one of only 14 senators who refused to sign a law restricting gay marriages.