President Bush says Democratic challenger John Kerry would weaken America and make the world more dangerous. Democrats say the president is misrepresenting Senator Kerry's record. From the White House, correspondent Scott Stearns reports on the day's campaigning for next month's presidential election.
This was to have been a speech on medical liability reform in the key swing state of Pennsylvania. But following last week's presidential debate, White House officials announced that President Bush would instead give a major speech on terrorism and the economy.
It was more a series of attacks against Senator Kerry's positions along with parts of the president's standard campaign speech.
"Twenty-seven days from today Americans will make a critical choice," he said. "My opponent offers an agenda that is stuck in the thinking and the policies of the past. On national security, he offers the defensive mindset of September the 10th, a global test to replace American leadership, a strategy of retreat in Iraq, and a 20-year history of weakness in the United States Senate."
President Bush repeated his allegation that Senator Kerry is a so-called flip-flopper on Iraq, taking whatever position is most politically advantageous.
"My opponent's endless back and forth on Iraq is part of a larger misunderstanding. In the war on terror, Senator Kerry is proposing policies and doctrines that would weaken America and make the world more dangerous," he said.
Senator Kerry says it is President Bush who has made America less secure by invading Iraq without a big enough coalition to share the costs. The Democratic candidate says he would broaden that alliance with an international summit on Iraq.
President Bush says Senator Kerry has insulted the allies America has in Iraq and would allow countries like France to veto the use of U.S. troops.
"Instead, the senator would have America bend over backwards to satisfy a handful of governments with agendas different from our own," he said. "This is my opponent's alliance-building strategy: brush-off your best friend, fawn over your critics. That is no way to gain the respect of the world."
Senator Kerry had no public events Wednesday. Democratic Senator Joe Biden spoke for the campaign in a conference call with reporters. He defended Senator Kerry's remarks about a so-called global test for pre-emptive war where the president would prove to the world that military action was done for legitimate reasons.
"[Senator] Kerry is making a simple, straight-forward factual statement," he said. "We reserve the right to act no matter what the rest of the world thinks, but to the degree to which we can explain in legitimate terms, like Kennedy did in the Cuban missile crisis, like we did in Afghanistan, is the degree to which we get the rest of the world in there helping us and other people getting shot with us."
Senator Kerry and President Bush face off in their second debate this coming Friday in the Midwest city of St. Louis.