Bush assails Kerry on Social Security

/ Source: The Associated Press

President Bush on Monday accused Democratic rival Sen. John Kerry of “shameless scare tactics” by suggesting that the president would jeopardize Social Security for older Americans and bring back the military draft for young people.

Bush, in an Associated Press interview, said of Kerry, “He’s trying to scare our seniors. It is wrong to try to scare people going into the polls.”

The Republican incumbent said Kerry’s charges were just “old-style politics.”

Kerry said Sunday that Bush was planning a “January surprise” attempt to privatize Social Security if re-elected. As for reviving the draft to replenish U.S. forces in Iraq, the Democrat told The Des Moines Register last week that, “With George Bush, the plan for Iraq is more of the same and the great potential of a draft.”

Bush said it was inappropriate for Kerry to mention in the final debate that Mary Cheney, daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, is a lesbian in response to a question on whether homosexuality is a choice.

“I thought it was over the line,” the president said.

The commander in chief declined to comment on the controversy surrounding a National Guard unit from South Carolina that refused to follow orders in Iraq, calling it a “lone example” and he has decided to “let the military look at the incident.”

Three months before Iraq holds its first free election, Bush said the United States would have to live with whatever the outcome is. Asked if the people of Iraq choose an Islamic fundamental government someday, Bush said, “I would be disappointed but democracy is democracy. If that’s what the people choose, that’s what the people choose.”

Bush said the United States will remain “on alert” about the possibility of a terrorist strike on U.S. soil before the election, but said, “we have no specific threat information on that. Otherwise, we would have let people know.”

“The United States and other countries have been concerned about the possibility of an election-related terrorist strike ever since the Madrid bombings,” said the president, who added that he had taken part in a National Security Council meeting earlier in the day to talk about threat information.

Last March, 191 people in Madrid were killed in terrorist bombings just three days before Spain’s elections.

The president also said he hoped that that there would not be a repeat of the Electoral College mess four years ago that required a long recount and a decision by the Supreme Court before the winner of the race was decided. Laughing, he said, “I hope not,” when asked about the possibility of another impasse.

The Republican said he was trying to turn out as many voters as possible to prevent that occurrence.