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McCain, Bush rivalry heats up for primary

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

BEDFORD, N.H. – Republican presidential candidates George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain are trading barbs over tax cuts in a clear signal that what was to be a gentleman’s campaign for the White House is now intensifying.

Bush blew into New Hampshire yesterday with new ammunition for the nomination fight – an endorsement by former rival Elizabeth Dole – and declared that McCain’s tax cut plan would not do as much for low-income Americans as his own $483 billion proposal.

”His plan doesn’t address the people who live on the outskirts of poverty, working hard to get to the middle class,” Bush said. McCain, meanwhile, said he would unveil a new tax-cut plan giving breaks mainly to middle- and lower-income people while reserving most of the budget surplus for Social Security and Medicare. He said Bush’s plan would use the surplus to help the rich.

McCain said he was neither surprised by Bush’s attack nor by Dole’s endorsement, saying they were the natural result of a strong challenge to a front-runner who is backed by the party’s establishment.

”When you see a campaign get traction, it gets very tough. I have every reason to think it’s gonna get tougher,” he said.

McCain’s campaign plans to raise the rhetoric this week, first with a round of newspaper ads in New Hampshire today reaffirming his commitment to keeping Internet sales free from taxation and helping to defend himself against Bush on taxes.

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