emocratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards (search) took President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney (search) to task Thursday on gay marriage, poverty, and other issues, using unusually harsh words at a forum that included undecided voters.
Edwards, responding to a question about the Democratic ticket's stance on civil unions, referenced Cheney's recent remarks that were supportive of gay rights.
The North Carolina senator noted that "the vice president disagrees with the president on this." Referring to Cheney, Edwards said sarcastically: "Somebody forgot to tell him what he was supposed to say I guess."
Edwards made his comments during a question-and-answer forum before about 1,600 people at an event in which the Kerry-Edwards campaign asked attendees to bring five undecided voters with them, part of a new national program called "Take Five."
Edwards said that earlier Thursday, he and Bush came within miles of each other in New Mexico on the same day new Census numbers were released that showed the number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.3 million last year, while the ranks of the uninsured swelled by 1.4 million.
"It'd be interesting to hear what he had to say about these important issues," Edwards said. Pausing as the crowd roared, he added: "You just heard it. He remained completely silent."
"Sometimes I guess silence is golden. This is not one of those times," Edwards said.
And, Edwards said, Bush told New Mexico residents that "he wanted to be given four more years of George Bush and Dick Cheney so they could continue the good they're doing for America."
"I just don't know if Americans can take that kind of good anymore," Edwards quipped.
The Bush campaign chastised Edwards for his "cynical and sarcastic attacks."
"The reason John Kerry and John Edwards are offering negative and misleading attacks to voters is because they know their liberal record in the United States Senate is so out of the mainstream," said Brian Jones, a Bush campaign spokesman.
Edwards also took the opportunity before undecided voters to chide the Bush-Cheney campaign for asking some people who want to attend planned events to sign an endorsement pledge before receiving tickets.
"We don't require people to sign a pledge of loyalty to come to our event," Edwards said. "We think people's voices should be heard. That's what democracy is all about."