- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 9, 2004

COLMAR, Pa. — President Bush, responding to the Kerry campaign’s shift of focus from Vietnam to economic policy, razzed the Democrat for refusing to reveal his tax plan until after the election.

“One of my opponent’s key economic advisers is saying they won’t give the details on how they would raise spending and lower the deficit until after the election,” Mr. Bush said to the laughter of the crowd of 1,500 at a Christmas-collectibles factory in this Philadelphia suburb.

“Well, if they want to hold back information until the people vote, you can bet it won’t be good news for the taxpayers,” he said. “But America will reject the hidden Kerry tax plan.”

Mr. Bush’s comments came at the first of a two-stop visit to Pennsylvania, a Democratic stronghold in recent presidential elections that suddenly has become competitive for the Republican ticket.

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of likely Pennsylvania voters released yesterday gave Mr. Bush a 48 percent to 47 percent lead over Mr. Kerry in a state that Al Gore won in 2000 by 205,000 votes.

Various polls taken in August gave Mr. Kerry a lead of five to 12 percentage points. Until this week, Mr. Kerry had led or was tied with Mr. Bush in 30 of 38 polls taken in Pennsylvania this year.

Democrats were counting on Pennsylvania’s 21 electoral votes, and a defeat here would greatly damage Mr. Kerry’s chance to take the White House.

A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll released yesterday showed Mr. Bush with a 47 percent to 43 percent lead among likely voters over Mr. Kerry nationally, with independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader garnering 3 percent.

That total represents a four-point swing in the president’s direction since the Republican National Convention in New York City last week. Other polls have given Mr. Bush as much as an 11-point lead across the country.

Mr. Bush, who has shown more energy on the stump since the convention, told the crowd that his “spirits are high” and “I’m feeling great about life.”

He painted Mr. Kerry’s 20-year record in the U.S. Senate as one in which he “repeatedly voted for higher taxes” on individuals and businesses to pay for exorbitant spending programs.

“If you drive a car, Senator Kerry has voted for higher taxes on you,” Mr. Bush said. “If you have a job, he’s voted for higher taxes on you. If you’re married, or have children, he’s voted for higher taxes on you.”

The president said Mr. Kerry has proposed $2 trillion in new spending, and that his promise to pay for it by raising taxes only on the wealthiest 2 percent of earners doesn’t add up.

“My opponent’s tax increases would bring only about $650 billion in revenue over the next 10 years,” Mr. Bush said. “So, you do the math.”

Kerry spokesman Phil Singer said the president’s “false attacks are just another desperate attempt to cover up his wrong choices that have taken the country in the wrong direction.”

“Bush’s wrong choices have turned record surpluses into record deficits and his wrong plans will create new and deeper deficits as far as the eye can see,” Mr. Singer said. “John Kerry and John Edwards have a plan to cut taxes for 98 percent of all Americans, 99 percent of all businesses, and help families deal with the skyrocketing costs of health care.”

The president’s speech was interrupted twice by protesters who infiltrated the invitation-only crowd by posing as campaign volunteers.

The women, members of the Philadelphia chapter of the AIDS advocacy group ACT UP, shouted, “Bush lied, people died,” and “30 billion for AIDS now,” before being escorted out of the hall by Secret Service agents — one of them with her hair being pulled.

As the president left the factory, his motorcade passed three signs by supporters who nonetheless had a bone to pick with Mr. Bush’s immigration policy.

One sign read: “Close the border with Mexico.”

Mr. Bush finished his day at a campaign rally in front of about 10,000 people at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown. He campaigns in West Virginia and Ohio today.

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