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White House to Kerry: Name names

Senator challenged over claim about world leaders


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ON CNN TV
In the debate about John Kerry's assertion that there are world leaders rooting for him in his bid for the White House, the Bush campaign's Mark Mehlman and the Kerry camp's Jeanne Shaheen join us on "Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics" at 3:30 p.m. ET Tuesday.
THE MORNING GRIND
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CNN's Carol Lin on John Kerry's stance about international leaders and Bush.

CNN's Dana Bash on the Bush reaction to the Spanish election results.

CNN's Soledad O'Brien talks with Al Sharpton about his concession in the race.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- White House press secretary Scott McClellan challenged Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry on Monday to identify world leaders the senator has said were rooting for him in November.

McClellan suggested Kerry was making up the claim.

McClellan's comments followed a call over the weekend by Secretary of State Colin Powell for Kerry to name names "or find something else to talk about."

Kerry dismissed the challenge Monday, telling reporters that administration officials were trying to divert attention from President Bush's record.

The brouhaha stemmed from a comment Kerry made to supporters March 8 at a fund-raiser in Florida: "I've met more leaders who can't go out and say this publicly, but boy, they look at you and say, 'You got to win this. You got to beat this guy.' "

McClellan urged Kerry to "be straightforward" with American voters and disclose which international leaders told him they support him.

If he won't, "Then the only alternative is that he is making it up to attack the president of the United States," McClellan said.

Kerry campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter shot back that if McClellan was going to take on campaign issues, Bush "ought to get him off the taxpayers' payroll and stop using the White House for political purposes."

"The bottom line is this White House would be better off spending its time repairing our alliances around the world so we can collectively fight the war on terrorism and better protect the United States, rather than using the White House press room as a place to carry out political attacks," she said in a written statement. (CNN.com Special Report: America Votes 2004)

Powell joined the fray over the weekend.

"I don't know what foreign leaders Senator Kerry is talking about," he told "Fox News Sunday."

"It's an easy charge, an easy assertion to make. But if he feels it is that important an assertion to make, he ought to list some names. If he can't list names, then perhaps he should find something else to talk about."

Asked about the comments, Kerry, a four-term senator from Massachusetts, told reporters Monday the president's allies were trying to divert attention from Bush's record.

"They want to change the subject from jobs, health care, environment, Social Security," he said. "They don't have a campaign, so they're trying to divert it."

Kerry told a Bush supporter at a Pennsylvania jobs forum Sunday that the leaders who made the comments were speaking to him in confidence and are currently engaged in work with the Bush administration.

Bush was en route Monday to a Philadelphia suburb to tout his economic record in a meeting with first-time homeowners there.

He said he would fight "economic isolationism" -- a jab at Kerry, who has vowed to review trade agreements if elected.

"The economy is strong and getting stronger," Bush said.

"There's still people looking for work, make no mistake about it, but it's getting better."


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