LAS VEGAS - Sen. John Kerry, greeting thousands of Nevadans Friday night on the eve of the state's Democratic presidential caucus, lashed out at President Bush for presiding over what he called a greed-based U.S. economy, adding that Bush must go.
Some 2,000 people who packed a high school gymnasium cheered, waved and shouted chants of "No More Bush" as Kerry said the president saddled the country with failed economic policies and "a creed of greed" that has resulted in the Enron scandal and other financial disasters.
"I know you can bet on a lot of things here in Vegas, but the one thing I'd advise you not to bet on is the Bush economic plan," he said.
In a statement released before his speech, Kerry also touted his opposition to putting a nuclear waste dump in southern Nevada. The Massachusetts Democrat voted against similar plans for a Yucca Mountain dump in 1996 and '97.
"Nevadans understand better than anyone why so many Americans don't trust George W. Bush," Kerry said. "Four years ago, candidate Bush promised not to ship nuclear waste to your state unless scientifically deemed safe. But after the election, President Bush caved to special interests and broke his promise to Nevada."
Kerry was introduced by Rep. Shelley Berkley, who on Friday night became the state's highest-ranking Democrat to endorse his candidacy.
"Since Kerry has emerged as the strongest candidate in the field and has demonstrated his ability to energize our base and reach out to other people around the country, I've decided he is the best candidate to beat George Bush," she told The Associated Press.
Several state lawmakers attended the rally, including Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, who attacked Bush on a number of issues.
"Bush says he's been a leader. But he's a misleader. He told us he was going to build bridges, but he drove wedges," Titus said. "He told us he was going to follow sound science when it came to Yucca Mountain. Instead he followed special interests."
Lauraleigh Mikula, 49, owner of a Las Vegas tourism Web site, said she supported Kerry because he is honest and bases his positions on facts.
"After President Bush decided to change his mind and put Yucca Mountain as a nuclear repository we knew that he didn't have our interests at heart," she said.
Kerry told his audience he arrived in Las Vegas on Friday not just to mark the night before the caucus, but "to mark with you the beginning of the end of the Bush presidency."
"Stand with me and we will send George Bush back to Texas," he said.
"And on November 2nd, we will say to the country, 'Mission Accomplished."'