WASHINGTON, Sept 12: Democratic presidential contender John Kerry, in an interview published on Sunday, slammed US President George W. Bush's campaign tactics, saying he "will say anything and do anything to get elected and hold on to power."

With respect to a barrage of television ads aimed at discrediting Kerry's Vietnam War service and which are widely credited with the downward slide in his polling numbers, Kerry was particularly adamant.

"I think the president's unwillingness to walk away from those comments makes it clear that he and the vice president will say anything and do anything to get elected and to hold on to power. It was a shameful and outrageous effort," Kerry told Time magazine in an interview to appear in this week's editions.

The Massachusetts senator said he was confident that despite the setback caused by the ads, his campaign would rebound. "You know, I've been in worse situations in my life. The attacks don't attack me as much as they attack Americans and America. They're trying to distract people from the real issues that matter," Kerry said.

He chipped away at what is widely considered Bush's strongest suit - national security - saying that the president has been inadequate on that score as well. "America is not as safe as we ought to be after 9/11. We can do a better job at homeland security. I can fight a more effective war on terror," he said.

"They're shredding alliances around the world with people we have traditionally been able to rely on," Kerry said. "That's what bothers me." "We've gone backward in Iraq, and we've gone backward on the war on terror," he said.

In the interview, Kerry also stepped up his renewed emphasis on criticizing White House domestic policy. "George Bush has made the wrong choices for America. He's leading the country in the wrong direction," Kerry said.

"The standard of living for the average American has gone down. People's incomes have dropped. Five million Americans have lost their health insurance. The deficit is the largest it's been in the history of this country," he told the magazine.

Kerry also suggested that while Republicans have slapped him with the label of being an indecisive "flip-flopper," Bush has shown real inconstancy running the country over the past four years.

"The trail of broken promises and reversed decisions of this administration is unlike any I have ever seen at any time that I have been in public life, and I'm going to draw that picture as clear as a bell," Kerry said. -AFP

Updated Sep 13, 2004 12:00am

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