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Kerry calls Senate GOP's budget 'immoral'

Rallying in N.H., invokes religion in his criticism

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Democratic Senator John F. Kerry called the Republican budget approved by the US Senate ''immoral" and said it will hurt cities like Manchester.

''As a Christian, as a Catholic, I think hard about those responsibilities that are moral and how you translate them into public life," the Massachusetts senator said at a rally yesterday in support of Mayor Bob Baines, a Democrat running for reelection.

''There is not anywhere in the three-year ministry of Jesus Christ, anything that remotely suggests -- not one miracle, not one parable, not one utterance -- that says you ought to cut children's healthcare or take money from the poorest people in our nation to give it to the wealthiest people in our nation," he said.

Kerry criticized the Senate spending plan, which would cut an estimated $36 billion over five years, saying it would reduce funds for police, after-school programs, and children's healthcare.

''All of those things will fall onto the backs of mayors and local communities," he said.

Kerry lost the presidential election last November but won in New Hampshire by more than 9,000 votes. He will not discuss his intentions for 2008, but has been campaigning for Democrats seeking election this month and in 2006.

Asked about his references to religion, he said Democrats need to talk about the morality of government choices.

''We have to reclaim the legitimacy of our faith, all faiths," he said.

Kerry was headed to Barre, Vt., after his Manchester appearance to attend a Vermont Democratic Party fund-raiser, where he was expected to discuss the war in Iraq.

Kerry has called for a ''reasonable time frame" for pulling back troops, and said 20,000 should start returning home in December.

Kerry will appear with US Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, and Scudder Parker, a Democrat who plans to challenge Governor James Douglas, a Republican, next year.

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