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Bush, Kerry Clash Over Taxes - 2004-07-17

President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry were both on the campaign trail Friday. The president was in the important swing state of West Virginia. Senator Kerry was in Washington, D.C., where he accepted the endorsement of a teachers' union.

With some polls showing Senator Kerry leading the president in West Virginia, Mr. Bush told supporters there that he needs their help to win another four years in office.

"I'm here asking for your vote because I have a vision and a strategy to win the war on terror and to extend peace and freedom throughout the world. I'm here asking for your vote because I have a plan to continue to create jobs and opportunity for every single American," he said.

Mr. Bush says the economy is improving, with the unemployment rate in West Virginia down a full point from a year ago, to just over five percent.

He says Senator Kerry's plan to raise taxes would stifle that economic growth and reverse recent progress. "My opponents look at all this progress and somehow conclude that the sky is falling," he said. "Whether their message is delivered with a frown or a smile, it's the same old pessimism. And to cheer us up, they propose higher taxes, more federal spending and economic isolationism."

Senator Kerry says his plan would raise taxes on only the top two percent of American taxpayers. Everyone else, he says would get a tax cut. The likely Democratic candidate says it is not economic isolationism to force trading partners to protect workers' rights and honor free trade commitments.

With President Bush accusing him of being out of the mainstream of American values on issues from reproductive rights to military spending, Senator Kerry says values are more than election-year politics.

"Values, my friends, are not just talk. Values are what we live. Values are the choices we make," he said. "They are the causes that we champion, they are the people that we fight for. They are what make life real."

Senator Kerry spoke to a meeting of the American Federation of Teachers, which gave him its endorsement for November's election.

Most public opinion polls show President Bush and Senator Kerry running about even, which makes undecided voters in potential swing states like West Virginia even more valuable to both campaigns. Senator Kerry visited the state Thursday, and both men are expected to continue campaigning there right up to Election Day.