Stumping In Florida With McCain, Bush Mocks Kerry's Stance On Iraq
President Bush yesterday campaigned in the Florida Panhandle, a GOP stronghold. In his remarks there, Bush mocked Sen. Kerry's recent statement that, even knowing what he knows now about Iraq's WMD programs, he would have supported the congressional resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. Sen. Jon McCain appeared with Bush in Florida, offering a strong endorsement of the President. The Pensacola News Herald quotes Bush saying, "If America shows uncertainty and weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This isn't going to happen on my watch.'" NBC Nightly News showed Bush criticizing Kerry's remarks on Iraq, "Almost 220 days after switching positions to declare himself the anti-war candidate, my opponent has found a new nuance. He now agrees it was the right decision to go into Iraq." The Florida Times-Union quotes another part of Bush's critique, "After months of questioning my motives and even my credibility, Sen. Kerry now agrees with me that even though we have not found the stockpile of weapons we all believe were there, knowing everything we know today, he would have voted to go into Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power. . . . I want to thank Sen. Kerry for clearing that up." According to the AP Bush "added sarcastically that Mr. Kerry still had time to change his position: 'There are still 84 days left in the campaign.'" Kerry's campaign national security adviser Rand Beers, says Reuters, fired back. "The issue has never been whether we were right to hold Saddam accountable, the issue is that we went to war without our allies, without properly equipping our troops and without a plan to win the peace," Beers said.
The Orlando Sentinel reports this morning that McCain gave Bush a "rousing endorsement. 'This president took the fight to the enemy,' McCain said, using a line that has become campaign television ad fodder. 'He has led with a great moral quality and firm resolve. ... He has more than earned our support. He has earned our admiration and our love.'" The Washington Post, meanwhile, says Bush "got a strong vote of confidence from McCain, who had been courted by Kerry as a possible running mate and who only days ago defended Kerry's service in Vietnam after attacks from other Vietnam War veterans." The Dallas Morning News, however, thought the joint campaign swing "was no Straight Talk Express. Despite their big bear hug at the start of the day and the president's invitation for the Arizona senator to spend the night at his Texas ranch, their sometimes-frosty relations have not entirely thawed. And the Bush campaign high command was taking no chances. . . . Usually on these campaign bus trips, Mr. Bush has local reporters aboard for a chat. And on this trip, campaign aides had even considered having Good Morning America anchor Diane Sawyer stop by. There were second thoughts, though, what with Mr. McCain incensed at a new television ad by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that accused Mr. Bush's Democratic rival, John Kerry, of lying about his record in Vietnam."
Bush's campaign appearance with McCain received widespread local TV coverage in swing states. Most of the coverage noted McCain's praise the President's handling of the war on terrorism and his claim that Bush has more than earned four more years in the White House. Several also noted that the Bush camp is hoping McCain's presence on the campaign trail with Bush will offset Kerry's emphasis of his Vietnam war record. The other major theme in the coverage was Bush's charges that Kerry has repeatedly changed his position on the Iraq war. Typical of the coverage were KSDK-TV of St. Louis, MO, which noted "campaign aides hope McCain's presence can help counter John Kerry's emphasis on his war record in Vietnam," and Miami's WPLG-TV, which reported "Bush ridiculed rival Kerry today while campaigning in Florida."
MSNBC Defends Scarborough's Participation In Bush Rally.
The New York Times reports the MSNBC cable channel "defended an appearance by a host of one its programs at a stump rally for President Bush in Pensacola, Fla., saying the channel has different rules for news anchors and what it called opinion anchors. Joe Scarborough, host of the nightly 'Scarborough Country' program, could be seen on news reports on Tuesday standing and applauding numerous times during the president's speech. Mr. Bush even cited him in his speech, saying he appreciated Mr. Scarborough's presence in the district he once served as a Republican congressman."
Cheney Says Kerry Does Not Understand Dynamics Of Terror War.
Vice President Cheney, meanwhile, campaigned in the key state of Iowa, where according to the Des Moines Register he "attacked the central theme of John Kerry's campaign. . .arguing that the Democratic nominee lacks the basic understanding of the war on terrorism to protect Americans." Cheney also "stoked traditional Republican themes during his brief stop at in Clive, his third Iowa trip for President Bush's re-election campaign in less than three months. . . . 'We've gone on offense in the war on terror and the president's opponent Sen. Kerry doesn't seem to agree,' Cheney told an audience of more than 1,000 supporters at Seven Flags Events Center in Clive shortly after noon."