Video: Kerry refuses to apologize

updated 3/11/2004 3:13:25 PM ET 2004-03-11T20:13:25

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry on Thursday rejected Republicans demands that he apologize for calling his GOP critics “the most crooked, you know, lying group I’ve ever seen.”

“I have no intention whatsoever of apologizing for my remarks,” Kerry said during a news conference on the Senate side of the Capitol. “I think the Republicans need to start talking about the real issues before the country.”

A group of GOP leaders in the House and Senate called on Kerry to stop negative campaigning even while describing him as “Ted Kennedy on a South Beach diet.” They scolded Kerry for the offhand remark he made Wednesday in Chicago, contending it was undignified for a presidential candidate.

“If you ask me, he’s getting off on the wrong foot in this campaign by name-calling,” House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., told reporters as he and other GOP leaders met in his office Thursday. “We’re not lying when we start saying that Senator Kerry is the old-time Democrat of tax and spend.”

'Ted Kennedy on a South Beach diet'
Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said, “We see John Kerry as Ted Kennedy on a South Beach diet.”

The Republicans rejected Kerry’s call for returning to Clinton-era tax rates for people earning $200,000 a year, contended he would raise taxes on the middle class by $900 billion, and doubted Kerry’s ability to adequately fund defense.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said Kerry was “not in synch with the American people.” Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said, “This concerted effort to convince the American economy is in the tank is simply not accurate.”

Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said Kerry’s remark about “crooked ... lying” Republicans gave Americans “a little glimpse of the real John Kerry, and he’s not even tired yet.” Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., said Kerry should apologize for a comment “outside the bounds of where people who want to hold the highest office in this country should be making.”

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