[Democrat Candidates] Say Bush Speech Belies Dark Reality
Democrats challenged the bright picture of America presented in President Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday, saying it belied a darker reality of lost jobs, rising deficits and mounting casualties in Iraq.
"The State of the Union may look rosy from the White House balcony or the suites of George Bush's wealthiest donors," said Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean. "But hardworking Americans will see through this president's effort to wrap his radical agenda with a compassionate ribbon."
Retired Gen. Wesley Clark said Bush's promises were "just smoke and mirrors" to hide that he "has helped those who have most, hurt those who have least, and ignored everyone in between." Clark later told a New Hampshire audience that Bush "is a divisive, polarizing figure." He continued, "There's a certain amount of deception, untruth and misleading information. We heard it in that speech."
Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who finished second in the caucuses, said the state of the union is fine for the powerful, but "the state of working Americans is a struggle every single day."
In what he dubbed his own "state of the nation" speech, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio said Bush's tax cuts combined with the Iraq war have weakened the middle class. The administration "has spent $155 billion for an unnecessary war driven by fear," Kucinich said.