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Rep. Sam Graves (R) and former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes (D) are ramping up their rhetoric as if they were already roaring down the 2008 political backstretch.

Barnes’ campaign continued to hit Graves Wednesday, demanding that the lawmaker say whether he agrees with the White House or a recent survey suggesting that nearly three-quarters of Americans believe the country is experiencing a recession.

“Congressman Graves, do you agree with President Bush’s statement yesterday that the United States is not in a recession?” Barnes asked in a statement.

The campaigns began skirmishing last week, each launching salvos attacking the other over outside interests, the price of gas and health care. Last week, the incumbent struck Barnes for her out-of-district fundraising in the first quarter of the year, distributing a release Wednesday that read, “Kay has spent almost her entire adult life living in and working for downtown Kansas City.”

“While pretending to listen to the Sixth District, she is raking in the money from downtown Kansas City interests,” it continued. “Why should downtown Kansas City get two representatives to Congress when everyone else only has one? Big city mayors, like leopards, do not easily change their spots.”

— Matthew Murray

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