KETCHUM, Idaho – Presidential nominee John Kerry (search) and other Democrats are accusing President Bush of stacking the federal government with friends and donors who are gutting regulations on U.S. corporations.
Kerry, running mate John Edwards (search) and supporters are stressing a theme this week that they've been campaigning on all year — Bush puts corporate interests ahead of workers and the middle class.
Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said Kerry has no standing to criticize, considering that the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics (search) determined he has received more campaign contributions from lobbyists over the years than any other senator. Schmidt also pointed out that Edwards, a North Carolina senator, refused to release the names of his top fund-raisers.
"There is a great deal of hypocrisy in these attacks," Schmidt said.
The Kerry campaign also announced Kerry will donate $6 million from his record-breaking $225 million primary fund-raising to the Democratic Party's efforts to win seats in the House and Senate. The money will be split evenly between the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
With Kerry vacationing in Idaho, Edwards, a former trial attorney, was arguing the campaign's case that Bush has "the most aggressive anti-regulatory posture in memory" during a stop in Willard, Mo., on Monday.
"We've unfortunately seen too many examples of times when this administration should have stood up for the interests of working Americans but looked the other way instead," he said in prepared remarks. "When John and I are in the White House, the for-sale sign is going to come off the front door."
A Kerry-Edwards campaign report attempts to tie donations from various industries to favors that the industry got from the administration. For example, it says:
— The logging and timber industry gave more than $1.5 million to Bush and got the right to log without the usual environmental reviews.
— The coal industry gave $300,000 to Bush and got less protection against black lung disease for workers.
— The chemical industry gave more than $1 million to Bush and got reduced regulations on chemicals exposed to workers.
— The auto industry gave more than $300,000 to Bush and got eased rules on reporting potential defects and a rule allowing truckers to drive 11 hours a day.
— The restaurant industry gave more than $1.2 million and got killed a regulation intended to prevent their workers from exposure to smoke.
The Kerry campaign also names many administration officials who used to work for the industries they now oversee.