WASHINGTON – President Bush renewed his criticism of rival John Kerry's (search) domestic proposals Friday as his campaign prepared a new television ad warning that liberals in Congress would join Kerry in harming job growth and the economy by raising taxes on small businesses.
"To make sure the economy continues to grow, we'll be wise about how we spend the money — the people's money. And to make sure the economy grows, we have to keep your taxes low," Bush told people attending a fund-raiser at a Washington hotel.
"My opponent has proposed at least $2.2 trillion in new federal spending so far. And we still have the month of October to go," Bush said, citing a figure the Kerry campaign rejects as inaccurate.
Kerry has proposed paying for new initiatives by rolling back taxes only on the wealthiest Americans. Bush said, "We're not going to let them tax anybody, because we're going to win in November."
In his first fund-raising appearance in more than a month, which netted $1.8 million for the Republican National Committee (search), Bush stumbled while reviewing his reasons for fighting terrorists abroad: "Free societies are hopeful societies, and free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat — at the drop of a hat."
The new television ad contrasts the Bush economic plan with Kerry's, arguing that "liberals in Congress and Kerry's plan" would raise taxes on small businesses, which would "hurt jobs, hurt small business and hurt our economy."
At the same time, a new radio spot features a law enforcement officer from Kerry's home state of Massachusetts who claims that Kerry "and his liberal buddies in Congress want to make all the decisions for you, and then stick you with the bill."
The appearance in Washington was a rare one for Bush, who has been aggressively hitting the campaign trail with less than seven weeks before the Nov. 2 election. He immediately left town to collect more campaign cash for the GOP in North Carolina. While down south, he also was holding an event designed to boost his standing among women voters.
Bush last appeared at a fund-raiser Aug. 13 in Seattle and has spent far less time raising money in recent months than campaigning. Bush and Kerry each have accepted $75 million in taxpayer money for the general campaign and have stopped raising money for their own campaigns.
Still, the GOP and Democratic parties will spend tens of millions more to benefit their candidates, both of whom continue to help raise that cash. The parties can spend roughly $16 million each in coordination with their presidential nominees, and unlimited amounts independent of them.
The North Carolina event has Bush campaigning in the home state of Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards. The Kerry-Edwards ticket has been campaigning aggressively there in hopes of putting the state's 15 electoral votes in play, though it was last carried by a Democrat in 1976 and Bush easily won there in 2000.
Polls last month showed Bush with a narrow lead in the state.
From North Carolina, Bush was traveling to his family's compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, where he was spending the weekend. He leaves Sunday to visit hurricane-ravaged Alabama and Florida before returning to Washington.
The hastily arranged Gulf Coast visit forced aides to shelve plans for Bush to attend a NASCAR race and campaign event in New Hampshire on Sunday. The campaign event in Derry, N.H., is now scheduled for Monday.