OREGON CITY, Ore. – Democrat John Edwards (search) compared President Bush (search) to former Enron Corp. chairman Kenneth Lay on Tuesday and predicted Bush "is going to be fired" by voters for the way he has run the country.
Lay, a Bush friend and campaign contributor, resigned under pressure after the giant energy company's collapse and has pleaded innocent to charges of fraud, conspiracy and false statements to banks.
The Democrats' vice presidential candidate assailed the potential cost of Bush policies in a second term and said of the president: "I think he believes that he's Ken Lay (search) and America is his Enron (search). The truth of the matter is that what happens when a CEO runs a company the way that George Bush has run America, they get fired.
"And that's exactly what's going to happen. George Bush is going to be fired by the American people."
The North Carolina senator, running mate to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (search), made his remarks while accepting the endorsements of more than 30 chief executive officers of outdoor equipment companies, including Patagonia, Columbia and Cascade Designs, before a town hall meeting in a suburb of Portland.
On the last part of a swing through the West, Edwards was spending the day campaigning in a state that Al Gore won by less than one percentage point in 2000. Polls show Kerry leading in the state this year.
Edwards said the Bush campaign has criticized possible costs of Kerry's proposals while hiding the potential costs of its own.
"They will say just about anything," Edwards said of Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. "What they don't want people to know is that they're proposing another $3 trillion in spending and they have absolutely no way to pay for it."
"The truth is they want to make sure that their friends, particularly their friends in places like Halliburton (search), are well taken care of," Edwards said, a reference to the company once led by Cheney. "But they're going to attach $3 trillion of additional debt onto our children and onto our grandchildren."
Brian Jones, a Bush campaign spokesman, dismissed Edwards' comments as "flailing, baseless attacks." He added: "They're trying to hid the fact that they have not put forth a plan for paying for their own proposals."
On the campaign trail, Bush often claims that the Kerry-Edwards plan would cost $2 trillion. The Democrats' campaign disputes the figure, arguing that the Kerry-Edwards health care and education proposals would be paid for by rolling back tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.