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Inside Politics

Kerry alleges 'fear and smear' tactics

Sen. John Kerry speaks Tuesday at New York's Cooper Union.
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CNN's Bill Schneider looks at the swift boat ads' impact.

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• The Candidates: Bush | Kerry
John F. Kerry
George W. Bush

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry on Tuesday accused the Bush campaign of adopting "the tactics of fear and smear" because its record is a failed one, saying November's election comes down to a choice between right and wrong.

"The Bush campaign and its allies have turned to the tactics of fear and smear because they can't talk about jobs, health care, energy independence and rebuilding our alliances," Kerry told students at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York, near the site of next week's Republican National Convention.

"The world will listen to what the Republicans say when they come here, but words, slogans and personal attacks cannot disguise what they have done and left undone," said Kerry, who presented himself as the candidate with a plan to resolve the health-care crisis and re-energize the economy.

Kerry predicted the Republicans will contend during their convention that the nation's economy is the strongest it has been in decades.

"They've obviously decided that some people will believe anything, no matter how fictional or how far-fetched, if they just repeat it often enough. That's how they've run their administration, that's how they're running their campaign and that's how they're going to run their convention."

The junior senator from Massachusetts said President Bush has favored special interests at the expense of the middle class and created a record of "four years of lost jobs, lower wages, higher health-care costs and tax cuts for the few."

"This election is not just a choice between Democrats and Republicans, but it is a choice between what is right for America and policies that are wrong for the American people. That's the choice in this election."

Kerry alluded several times to Bush's veracity, apparent references to a recent campaign to attack his war record by a group that calls itself Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

"My duty, as I understand it, is to be a president, a commander in chief, who finds the truth and tells the truth instead of misleading the American people," Kerry said.

"My duty is to be a president who tells the truth instead of hiding behind front groups, saying anything and doing anything to avoid the real issues that matter, like jobs, health care and the war in Iraq."

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has claimed that Kerry did not deserve the medals he won during the Vietnam War, an assertion at odds with the official Navy records and the candidate's former crew mates.

Kerry has said the group is linked to Bush, an allegation that the president's campaign has denied. (Full story)

On Monday, Bush called on Kerry to condemn all so-called 527 ads -- named after the federal provision that makes such organizations tax exempt and allows them to accept unlimited donations. Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is such a group.

"I hope my opponent joins me in condemning these activities of the 527 -- I think they're bad for the system," Bush said. (Full story)

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