PITTSBURGH – Vice President Dick Cheney's (search) remark that "the wrong choice" by voters could result in another terrorist attack was "a sleazy and despicable effort to blackmail voters with fear," Al Gore said Thursday.
The former vice president criticized the Bush-Cheney administration — which he repeatedly called the Bush-Halliburton administration — for their "failed record" on the economy, health care and the war in Iraq during a speech before about 200 supporters at the headquarters of the United Steelworkers of America.
"The claim by Bush and Cheney that the American people must give them four more years in office or else be 'hit hard' by another terrorist attack is a sleazy and despicable effort to blackmail voters with fear," Gore said.
"They are going back to the ugliest page in the Republican playbook: fear," he said. "They're not even really trying to convince you to vote for George Bush. Their only hope, they've decided, is to try and make you too afraid to vote for John Kerry (search). It's the lowest sort of politics imaginable. It is not worthy of a presidential candidate."
Cheney told supporters in Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday that, if Kerry were elected, the United States risked falling back into a "pre-9/11 mind-set" that terrorist attacks are criminal acts that require a reactive approach.
"It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States," Cheney said.
Gore joined other Democrats, including Kerry and running mate John Edwards, in condemning Cheney's statement. President Bush declined to discuss the issue with reporters on Wednesday. White House spokesman Scott McClellan (search) said Cheney was talking about differences in how Bush and Kerry would approach the war on terror.
Gore also criticized Bush over Labor Department statistics showing the country has a net loss of 913,000 jobs since he took office.
"It takes real work doing the wrong things in order to counter the natural momentum of the U.S. economy," he said. "But this president is now, along with Herbert Hoover, the only one to end up giving our country a net loss of jobs" since the Great Depression.