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Cheney blasts Kerry as tax fan

Democrat campaigns in California

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Stay with CNN for updates and analysis on the controversy over Condoleezza Rice's position on 9/11 testimony, and for news from the Bush-Cheney and John Kerry forces on the campaign trail.
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John F. Kerry
Dick Cheney

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney criticized Sen. John Kerry on Monday as a fan of "higher taxes for virtually every income group," as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee stumped for support in elector-rich California.

Cheney, who has emerged in recent weeks as the administration's point man in critiquing Kerry, blasted the four-term senator's record in a speech before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

"He has pledged that if elected president he will repeal many of the Bush tax cuts in his first hundred days in office," Cheney said. "He says he will keep some of those cuts, never mind that he opposed each one of them at the time.

"He has given the usual assurances that in those first hundred days, he is planning only the wealthiest Americans can expect higher taxes. But voters are entitled to measure that campaign promise against Senator Kerry's long record in support of higher taxes for virtually every income group."

Cheney's speech was part of a broader effort by the Bush-Cheney campaign to characterize Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, as a tax-and-spend liberal. On Monday, the Bush-Cheney campaign released a radio ad titled "the man from Massachusetts" that said Kerry voted for higher taxes "at least 350 times," a point Cheney also made in his speech.

The Bush campaign arrived at that figure by counting Kerry's votes against tax cuts and votes for smaller tax cuts, as well as votes for tax increases, according to the watchdog Web site

From Sacramento, California, Kerry struck back at the criticism. He poked fun at Cheney's relatively low profile until lately, using language administration figures had employed when describing Cheney's whereabouts during terror alerts.

"They have found Dick Cheney in an undisclosed location and brought him out to attack me," Kerry said. "That seems to be his designated role -- not to create jobs -- but to attack John Kerry."

And he sharply accused the administration of not "telling the truth" on a host of issues.

"They cannot seem to find the truth -- or tell the truth -- or if they find the truth, they don't like it so much because it is the truth of 3 million jobs lost; it is a truth of millions of children being left behind because of the broken promise of No Child Left Behind," Kerry said. "It is the truth of no health care plan for Americans as health care costs go up and up. It is the truth of going backwards on the environment."

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.2 million jobs have been lost since January 2001.

Earlier, Kerry visited a business-education center where he talked with adult students learning car repair.

"I hope we get this economy moving and keep you busy," he told them.

Kerry also attended a Cesar Chavez youth forum at California State University in Sacramento. Kerry described the late union organizer for farm workers as an American hero.

In other developments:

  • A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday show that last week's accusations from former White House antiterrorism chief Richard Clarke that President Bush dropped the ball in fighting terrorism resonate along party lines. Self-identified Kerry voters said they believe Clarke over the Bush administration 80 percent to 10 percent. But self-identified Bush voters were the opposite, saying the believe the administration over Clarke 81 percent to 12 percent.
  • Kerry's campaign released medical records in advance of surgery Kerry is to undergo Wednesday to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. Dr. Gerald Doyle, Kerry's physician, said in a letter released by the campaign that the senator was in "excellent health." The letter said Kerry has had no sign of cancer after surgery to remove his prostate in 2003.
  • CNN's Sean Loughlin and Mike Roselli contributed to this report.

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