"They will absolutely lie about anything," the Democratic vice presidential candidate said Monday at a rally in Victory Park attended by hundreds of well-wishers.
A Bush health care ad claims that Kerry would put health care decisions in the hands of government "bureaucrats" at a cost of $1.5 trillion. Independent analysts estimate the cost at $895 billion over 10 years, which Kerry says he would pay for by repealing Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.
"There's not a single new government program in our health care plan," which calls for strengthening existing government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, giving tax breaks to employers that provide health insurance, and allowing Americans to buy prescription drugs from Canada, Edwards said.
The North Carolina senator also criticized the Bush campaign's attacks on Kerry's military service and Republican attempts to portray Kerry as a supporter of al-Qaida and former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein (search).
John Kerry "is the one candidate who's actually led troops in battle," Edwards said, referring to questions about whether Bush completed his Vietnam-era service in the Texas Air National Guard.
Edwards said Monday that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have been consistent — but consistently wrong. "He will never admit he's done anything wrong," Edwards said of Bush. "They've made a lot of mistakes, and our troops and our taxpayers are paying for that right now."
Meanwhile, it was revealed that Edwards refused Monday to cross a local firefighters' picket line and attend a Democratic fund-raiser. He was scheduled to attend a reception at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Providence, R.I., that organizers hoped to raise about $500,000 for the ticket.
Outside the hotel, more than two dozen firefighters picketed over contract negotiations with the city.
"Once the campaign learned there would be a picket line at the event due to a contract dispute with the city, we canceled this trip," said Kim Rubey, a spokeswoman for Edwards. "John Edwards does not cross picket lines."