CANONSBURG, Pa. – Democrat John Kerry (search), on a Labor Day tour of Midwestern states where polls show the presidential race virtually tied, told voters he would try to pull out troops in Iraq (search) within four years.
"We want those troops home, and my goal would be to try to get them home in my first term," Kerry said, speaking to a fellow Vietnam War (search) veteran in the audience of his campaign event.
Faulting President Bush (search) on almost every aspect of his move toward war, Kerry said the United States is carrying the burden in casualties and cost. He called the president's coalition "the phoniest thing I ever heard."
"This president rushed to war without a plan to win the peace, and he's cost all of you $200 billion that could have gone to schools, could have gone to health care, could have gone to prescription drugs, could have gone to our Social Security (search)," he said.
"It's the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said.
Kerry was rolling through three battleground states this Labor Day. After meeting with supporters in Pennsylvania, he headed to a Labor Day celebration with mine workers in West Virginia and a final picnic in Ohio.
Armed with a pile of economic statistics, Kerry argued that jobs created during the Bush administration paid less and offered fewer benefits than the ones lost during that time.
"John Edwards (search) and I believe we can raise the standard of living in America again and raise the ability of Americans to make money," Kerry said.
Studies by such firms as Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Economy.com have shown that new jobs being created pay less than those created in previous economic recoveries.
About 1.7 million of the 2.6 million jobs lost since Bush took office have been replaced so far.
The Bush administration said the president's policies have helped create those jobs.
"John Kerry's pessimism and his calls for job-killing tax increases won't create a single job for American families," said spokesman Steve Schmidt. "His attacks once again are baseless and false."
The criticism of Kerry's tax policy is based on the Democrat's plan to roll back Bush's tax cuts on people earning $200,000 a year or more. The Bush campaign itself is vulnerable on the tax issue. Bush promised his tax cuts would create millions of new jobs, which hasn't happened.
Kerry's event was punctuated by about two dozen Bush supporters who interrupted on several occasions. Once, Kerry scolded them for "rudely shouting" while a 70-year-old woman, who had undergone several throat operations, was trying to ask a question about prescription drugs.