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Democratic Presidential Contenders Criticize Bush Policies During New Hampshire Debate - 2004-01-23


Democratic presidential candidates have criticized President Bush over the conflict in Iraq, tax cuts and a variety of other issues in a campaign debate in Manchester, New Hampshire, just five days before a crucial primary election in the state.

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry lashed out at the Bush administration's policies on Iraq, saying the president failed to exhaust every possibility for a peaceful solution before sending American soldiers off to war.

"I believe George Bush failed that test in Iraq. I said so at the time and that is what I believe happened. There was a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it," he said. "He chose the wrong way and he has run the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in the modern history of our country."

Polls show Senator Kerry is leading by as much as 10 percent here, followed by former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, retired General Wesley Clark and North Carolina Senator John Edwards.

In the final debate before next week's New Hampshire primary, Governor Dean criticized President Bush's tax cuts and sought to minimize a strident speech he made after a third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.

General Clark strongly defended his Democratic credentials, while saying in the past he has voted for Republican candidates for president.