MIAMI (AP) — Democrat John Kerry yesterday accused
President Bush of being “stunningly ineffective” at
foreign policy and stuck by his argument that the war against
terrorism isn’t primarily a military struggle.
Kerry, in a wide-ranging interview on NBC’s “Meet
the Press,” also stood by his promise to create 10 million
jobs and halve the deficit in his first term if elected, though he
conceded that soaring red ink could squeeze some proposals.
The Massachusetts senator and presumptive Democratic
presidential nominee pressed his argument that Bush, the Republican
incumbent, went about the Iraq war in a way that has left the
United States and its troops shouldering too much of the burden. He
said he would build an international alliance to share the
responsibility for rebuilding Iraq.
“I think this administration has proven, frankly,
stunningly ineffective in diplomacy,” Kerry said, citing
Bush’s policy change on Israel last week. “There were
Arab leaders that were taken by surprise by this
“I will immediately reach out to other nations in a very
different way from this administration,” he said.
“Within weeks of being inaugurated I will return to the U.N.
and I will rejoin the community of nations.”
Kerry rejected the suggestion that he’s been inconsistent
on Iraq because he voted for the congressional resolution that
authorized the use of force, and against $87 billion in additional
funding for the war. A Bush campaign commercial currently on the
air criticizes Kerry’s vote against the aid package last
Kerry noted that Bush himself had threatened to veto the $87
billion bill if it included money to pay for health care for
reservists and required Iraq to pay back some of the money set
aside for its reconstruction.
“Think of that. The president threatened to veto that
bill, and yet he is now accusing me for voting no,” he
Asked whether he’d vote against another funding bill for
U.S. troops in Iraq, Kerry said: “It depends entirely on what
the situation is … I’m not going to say
The Democrat and Vietnam War veteran said he supports the
long-term goal of stability in Iraq, but warned that the
public’s patience may wear thin.
“If we are stuck for a long period of time in a quagmire
where young Americans are dying without any sense of that
(stability) being able to be achieved, I think most Americans will
decide that’s failure,” Kerry said.
Kerry also defended his argument that the fight against
terrorism is more than just a military operation.
“You need the best intelligence, the best law enforcement
cooperation in the world,” he said. “I will not
hesitate to use those forces effectively. I think I could fight a
far more effective war on terror.”
Marc Racicot, chairman of Bush’s re-election campaign,
suggested that Kerry wasted an opportunity to explain why he voted
for the use of force in Iraq but against money for the U.S. troops
in harm’s way.
“John Kerry went even further and instead of sending a
message to the troops that we are behind them, when asked about his
new support in the future, he said ‘it depends upon the
situation,’“ Racicot said. “This conditional
support for the troops that John Kerry voted to send to Iraq in the
first place demonstrates a disturbing lack of judgment.”
Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said Kerry’s
appearance “was filled with inaccuracies, attacks and
pessimism toward the future of the country.”
Kerry campaign officials pointed to a comment by White House
spokesman Scott McClellan as evidence that the administration has
essentially the same position about the war being more than a
military operation. McClellan recently said, “We are fighting
the war on terrorism on many fronts.”
Kerry’s interview came as he opened a three-day campaign
swing through Florida, where the disputed 2000 election was decided
in favor of Bush, who won by 537 votes.
Afterward, Kerry returned to courting young voters at a rally of
several thousand students at the University of Miami.
“All across America, tuition has gone up in the last three
years by 28 percent” forcing thousands to abandon plans for
college, he said. “I believe no American should downsize
In a nod to local politics and the influential community of
Cuban expatriates, Kerry said he remained opposed to lifting the
U.S. embargo against Cuba, though he favors talks with the country
and possibly encouraging travel.
Kerry held to his promise of creating 10 million jobs, drawing
comparisons with former President Clinton. Kerry said Clinton
pledged to create 8 million jobs when he ran in 1992, but ended up
creating 11 million.