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Democrats Criticize Bush, but Sometimes Leave Out the Facts

By Nedra Pickler

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Democratic presidential candidates criticized President Bush’s record on the economy and fighting terrorism in a debate Tuesday night, but some of their jabs left out important facts.

Sen. Joe Lieberman declared it would take a Democratic president to “get this economy going,” but the economy has been gaining momentum over the last several months since Bush’s second tax cut took effect.

Weekly claims for unemployment insurance have fallen since April, and economic growth and productivity in the third-quarter reached 20-year highs.

Two of the candidates used a favorite attack line against Bush – Lieberman said “3.5 million people have lost their jobs” and Howard Dean said “3 million jobs lost are 3 million too many” – but their statements also ignored the improving economy.

It is true that about 3 million jobs were lost during the early months of the Bush presidency. But that trend has been reversing for several months as the jobless rate has dropped from a peak of 6.4 percent to 5.9 percent.

Both Wesley Clark and Dean accused Bush of “not fighting terrorism.” Although al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden remains at large, the administration’s war has substantially thinned the ranks of his network, including the arrest earlier this year of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. The administration also has thwarted dozens of attacks through increased cooperation with allies.

Even Ted Koppel, the ABC newsman who moderated the debate, waded into the gray area of truth when he declared that Dean had raised more money than anyone in the campaign.

While Dean’s $25 million through September tops the Democratic field, it is dwarfed by the more than $100 million Bush has already raised as a Republican with no primary opponent.

AP-ES-12-09-03 1955EST

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