WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Georgia Sen. Zell Miller, a Democrat who has endorsed President Bush, took the reins on Wednesday of a “Democrats for Bush” group and slammed John Kerry as “out of step” with the party’s past leaders.
Miller accused Kerry, the Democratic challenger to Bush and a Senate colleague from Massachusetts, of abandoning longtime Democratic Party principles on tax cuts and foreign policy.
“There are too many issues about which John Kerry and I disagree,” Miller said at an announcement sponsored by the Bush campaign. “And there are too few similarities between John Kerry and the great Democratic leaders I’ve known.”
Miller contrasted Kerry unfavorably with Democratic Presidents John Kennedy and Harry Truman and lumped the Vietnam War veteran with Democratic Party leaders “who really represent nothing but special interest groups and their own partisan agendas.”
He said Kerry was right to vote to authorize the war in Iraq but “started spending too much time with Howard Dean” — an outspoken critic of the war — during the Democratic primaries and voted against an $87 billion bill to help pay for troops and reconstruction in Iraq.
“That’s the worst kind of indecisiveness and the wrong leadership at this critical moment in history,” said Miller, a conservative former Georgia governor who is not running for re-election to the Senate this year.
Miller has bucked his Senate Democratic colleagues on numerous issues since he was appointed to the chamber in 2000. He was an original sponsor of Bush’s initial $1.3 million tax cut and the first Democrat to back the nomination of John Ashcroft as attorney general.
Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter pointed out that Miller praised Kerry two years ago as “an authentic hero” for his service in Vietnam and said Miller’s leadership of the Democrats for Bush group would be “a lonely post.”
“Democrats and Americans of all stripes are tired of George Bush’s failed policies and broken promises,” she said.
Bush campaign officials said they would send out a list of other Democratic members of the group later.
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