WASHINGTON – John Kerry (search) suggested Saturday night that Republicans may try to keep black voters from casting their ballots to help President Bush (search) win in November. "We are not going to stand by and allow another million African American votes to go uncounted in this election," the Democratic presidential nominee told the Congressional Black Caucus (search).
"We are not going to stand by and allow acts of voter suppression, and we're hearing those things again in this election."
Kerry has a team of lawyers to examine possible voting problems to try to prevent a repeat of the 2000 election disputes. He also has said he has thousands of lawyers around the country prepared to monitor the polls on election day.
"What they did in Florida in 2000, some say they may be planning to do this year in battleground states all across this country," Kerry said. "Well, we are here to let them know that we will fight tooth and nail to make sure that this time, every vote is counted and every vote counts."
Bush-Cheney spokesman Steve Schmidt said the campaign would not respond to Kerry's "baseless, divisive attacks" until Sunday. "Today is a day of remembrance," he said.
The Massachusetts senator also criticized the president for failing to meet with the caucus since his first month in office and for what he said was a failure to meet the Biblical standard set by the Good Samaritan (search) to help others in need.
Blacks are one of the most loyal Democratic voting blocks, and Kerry needs to bring them to the ballot box if he is to overcome his trail in the polls and defeat in Bush. Kerry opened by joking about how CBC Chairman Elijah Cummings (search), D-Md., has an easier race ahead than he.
"The latest survey has him up 80-20, so I said, "Want to trade?" Kerry said.
Earlier Saturday, Kerry recalled the good works done in memory of those who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes that killed nearly 3,000 people.
"While Sept. 11th was the worst day we have ever seen, it brought out the best in all of us," Kerry told families of Massachusetts victims during a memorial at the Boston Opera House (search). He delivered the same message in the weekly Democratic radio address.
"In the years ahead, we will share its lessons with our children and grandchildren," he said. "We will tell them that on Sept. 11, ordinary men and women became heroes at a moment's notice — and so can you. We will tell them that we were strong because we took care of each other — and so can you."
At 8:46 a.m. — the moment three years ago that American Airlines Flight 11 (search) hit the north tower — Kerry was visiting a memorial to Massachusetts victims. He laid white lilies at the memorial, located in Boston's Public Garden, then attended a private breakfast with families of the victims before the memorial service.
The two hijacked planes that crashed at the World Trade Center originated at Boston's Logan Airport. Victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon included nearly 200 people who either lived in Massachusetts or had ties to the state.
Kerry also issued a statement Saturday calling on Bush to release a 2001 report by the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (search) that reportedly recommended a major restructuring of the U.S. intelligence community, including establishing a single intelligence director.
The board's chairman, retired Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft (search), was national security adviser under Bush's father and President Ford.
"The White House has held this important report under wraps for nearly three years while resisting efforts to strengthen the intelligence services that are essential to preventing terrorist attacks and protecting our nation," Kerry said in the statement. "What is the White House hiding? Why shouldn't the Congress and the American people be able to fully consider General Scowcroft's recommendations?"