MANCHESTER, N.H. – Democratic presidential contender Richard Gephardt tore into President Bush on the economy Sunday, calling it a mess during a campaign swing through New Hampshire.
"Bush was handed the best economy we've had in 50 years. He came in and squandered the surplus," the Missouri congressman said. "I am furious at him and I am furious at the Republicans."
Gephardt said the tax cuts put in place by the Bush administration were irresponsible and claimed they have not produced any additional jobs nor helped educate one child.
"It hasn't done anything other than enrich the wealthiest people in the country," Gephardt said. "I will take back fiscal responsibility."
Gephardt also talked about the war in Iraq on his first stop at a house party at the home of state Sen. Lou D'Allesandro in Manchester.
He said his thoughts and prayers were with those Americans serving in Iraq and their families.
"People that serve in the military and put their lives up for us deserve our highest respect and our highest value," Gephardt said.
But he criticized President Bush for not pulling together a larger international coalition before invading Iraq, and said now is the time to create one to rebuild post-war Iraq.
"We have to leave Iraq better than we found it," he said.
Gephardt had two more house parties on his itinerary Sunday, and then planned to campaign in Laconia and Nashua on Monday in the state with the earliest primary.
Gephardt is making his second bid for the presidency. In 1988, he won the Democratic caucuses in Iowa, but then his campaign dwindled after he finished a distant second to Michael Dukakis in the New Hampshire primary.