Bush, Cheney Ridicule Kerry Speech, Portray It As A Reversal
President Bush was quick to ridicule Kerry's speech, portraying it as another example of "flip-flopping" by the Democratic nominee. The New York Times reports "Bush's advisers watched the 10 a.m. speech on television at the White House and set to work with him aboard Air Force One at noon to insert a hard-hitting response into the president's remarks at a campaign event" in Derry, New Hampshire. Bush said, "Forty-three days before the election, my opponent has now settled on a proposal for what to do next, and it's exactly what we're currently doing." The President added, "Today my opponent continued his pattern of twisting in the wind with new contradictions on old positions on Iraq. . . . Incredibly, he now believes our national security would be stronger with Saddam Hussein in power, not in prison. He's saying he prefers the stability of the dictatorship to the hope and security of democracy. I couldn't disagree more and not so long ago, neither did my opponent." Knight Ridder notes Bush's "withering sarcasm," and quotes him saying, "Incredibly, he now believes our national security would be stronger with Saddam Hussein in power, not in prison."
ABC World News Tonight noted the Bush camp "seemed primed for Mr. Kerry today. . . . They've been waiting for this attack. They've been tracking John Kerry's statements on Iraq. And they believe when it comes to debate on Iraq, their best weapon will be Senator Kerry's own words." The NBC Nightly News says "the Bush campaign characterizes Kerry's view as retreat and defeat." On CNN's Inside Politics, meanwhile, White House Communication Director Dan Bartlett said, "Every time we have seen Senator Kerry come out and speak on this issue he's changed his position. And today we're hearing the mother of all flip-flops."
On Letterman, Kerry Explains Stance On War, Funding Bill.
Kerry last night explained his position on the Iraq war, and his Senate votes on measures to authorize and fund it, on CBS's Late Show With David Letterman. Host David Letterman asked Sen. Kerry to explain his initial position on the Iraq war, and Kerry said, "I supported the authority I'll tell you exactly why. Because everyone in America thinks that if you vote to give the President the authority to go to war, you voted to actually go to war. And the fact is we voted to give the President the authority, and he himself said that war was not inevitable. We gave him judgment, the judgment to go to war or not to go to war, but to use that authority to get Saddam Hussein to live up to a set of standards, i.e., disarm. The President didn't have the patience to wait until he brought the coalition together, he said he would. He did not exhaust the remedies of the United Nations and he did not go to war as a last resort, which is what he promised. So that's when I got upset, because I thought he broke faith with those of us who gave him the authority under certain set of circumstances. And I think he's broken faith each step of the way since then by running a war that has each time left America more isolated and less safe." Letterman asked, "And you voted subsequently for the funding of the $87 billion initially?" Kerry said to applause, "Because I saw what was happening. I voted against it, I'm glad I voted against it. Because we now see that that $20 billion hasn't been spent effectively, most of it is going to Halliburton in fraud and no bid contracts which is completely inappropriate. I'd fire Halliburton tomorrow."