PIKETON, Ohio – Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards (search) on Thursday poked fun at Vice President Dick Cheney's (search) claim that economic indicators fail to measure the financial gains of Americans selling items on eBay.
"He said people are selling a lot of stuff on eBay. When we count the bake sales and lemonade stands, we'll have a roaring economy," Edwards told a union hall rally.
Last week in Cincinnati, Cheney told voters that indicators miss the hundreds of thousands who make money selling on eBay. "That's a source that didn't even exist 10 years ago," the vice president said. "Four hundred thousand people make some money trading on eBay."
Since President Bush took office in January 2001, Ohio has suffered economically, with 229,600 jobs lost and an unemployment rate of 5.9 percent, slightly above the national average. The battleground state, which went for George W. Bush in 2000, is being fiercely contested by the Republican and Sen. John Kerry (search). At stake are 20 electoral votes.
Edwards used his appearance in the swing state to criticize the Republicans, praise Kerry and pledge his support for a federal program aimed at helping workers from the government's nuclear facilities.
Responding to the GOP criticism that Kerry would be soft on terrorism, Edwards said, "John will actually do the hard work of leading alliances around the world. We'll do what must be done to keep the American people safe, and we're going to restore the image of America we all know and love."
The government's compensation program for sick weapons workers has paid out only $700,000 of the $95 million it has received since Congress created it. As of the end of July, the Energy Department, which runs the program, has paid only 31 claims of about 25,000 filed.
The program was started to help workers who were exposed to toxic substances such as radiation, heavy metals and asbestos at sites including the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon and nuclear weapons facilities in Oak Ridge and Clarksville, Tenn.
The Piketon plant's owner, USEC Inc., halted uranium production there in 2001.
Edwards flew later to Louisville, Ky., for a rally and fund-raiser that netted at least $700,000 for the Democratic Party. It was his first stop in state, which Bush easily won by double digits in 2000, since joining the Democratic ticket.
State Republican Party Chairman John McCarthy said Edwards' visit jeopardize Bush's solid advantage in Kentucky.
"I think it's kind of amazing that he's in Kentucky at all with so many other states that are in the balance," McCarthy said in a telephone interview.