Edwards Accuses Bush of 'Incompetence'

Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards (search) on Tuesday accused President Bush of failing the United States and the world in Iraq, citing unsecured nuclear weapons abroad and unprotected ports at home as further evidence of the president's "incompetence."

"He's created something that didn't exist before the war in Iraq — he's created a haven for terrorists," Edwards said.

Contending that Bush gave in to chemical industry lobbyists by not requiring greater security against terrorist attacks at the nation's chemical plants, Edwards said Bush has not secured "loose" nuclear weapons in other countries and has failed to protect airports and ports in the United States.

"This is not leadership — this is incompetence," Edwards said.

Bush is scaring people about terrorism and the war in Iraq to get people to vote against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (search), Edwards said.

"While they campaign on fear, we're going to talk about the facts," Edwards told about 500 supporters. "John Kerry and I are going to unite this country so we can win the war against terrorism."

Edwards outlined the Democratic ticket's plan for helping the middle class, which includes expanding and making permanent several tax cuts and deductions for people making less than $200,000 per year while eliminating tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. He blamed Bush for failing to create good-paying jobs.

"George Bush is completely out of touch with what's happening in people's lives," Edwards said. "You can't stand over and over with the big HMOs, the big drug companies, the big oil companies and the Saudi royal family and still stand with the American people."

Republicans said Kerry is acting desperate in the waning days of the campaign. Bruce Keough, chairman of Bush's campaign in New Hampshire, said many of Kerry's campaign promises are "laughable" and wouldn't pass the "straight-face test."

"President Bush understands ownership is the key to independence," Keough said, "owning our own homes, owning our businesses, and owning our own medical savings accounts."