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Kerry, Bush Clash Over Iraq - 2004-09-27


Iraq continues to dominate the U.S. presidential campaign.

During a campaign stop in Wisconsin, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry once again accused President Bush of not telling the truth about Iraq.

"He actually said in an interview that I think is coming out this week, but it was quoted yesterday, that if he had to do it all over again, he [Bush] would go land on that aircraft carrier in that same flight suit and say, 'mission accomplished,'" said Mr. Kerry. "The mission was not accomplished when he said it. He did not know it and did not understand it. It is not accomplished today and he is still trying to hide from the American people what needs to be done in order to be successful in Iraq."

There was more criticism of the president's Iraq policy from another prominent Democrat in Washington.

Senator Edward Kennedy told an audience at George Washington University that the administration's decision to go into Iraq was a major distraction from the overall war on terrorism that has left the United States more vulnerable to terrorist attacks, including the use of nuclear weapons.

"The greatest danger we face in the days, weeks and months ahead is a nuclear 9/11 that we hope and pray it is not already too late to prevent," said Mr. Kennedy. "The war in Iraq has made the mushroom cloud more likely, not less likely and it never should have happened."

President Bush was also out campaigning on Monday, looking for votes in the important swing state of Ohio.

Mr. Bush defended his policies on Iraq and said it was vital that the United States continue to support the building of a democratic Iraq.

"We will stay with the Iraqi people because it is in our interest," said Mr. Bush. "We will stay with the Iraq people because they long for freedom, they desire to be free."

Noting that the first presidential debate will be held on Thursday in Florida, the president also took aim at what he said are Senator Kerry's changing views on Iraq.

"He voted for the use of force in Iraq and then did not vote to fund the troops," said Mr. Bush. "He complained that we are not spending enough money to help in the reconstruction of Iraq and now he is saying we are spending too much. He said it was the right decision to go into Iraq. Now he calls it the wrong war. He probably could spend 90 minutes debating himself."

Both candidates are cutting back on their campaign schedules this week to prepare for the series of three debates, which many experts predict could be a turning point in the election.

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