Vice President Dick Cheney says President Bush has achieved important victories in the war on terrorism, despite recent bombings in Madrid and Baghdad. Mr. Cheney spoke at the Reagan Presidential Library in California Wednesday, where he portrayed Democratic presidential contender John Kerry as indecisive. Senator Kerry, for his part, criticized what he called the failed policies of the Bush administration.
Mr. Cheney told a California audience that people he described as "thugs and assassins" are trying to shake the will of the U.S. administration, but that the United States and its allies still have work to do in Iraq, and "will see it through."
"These times have tested the character of our nation and they have tested the character of our nation's leader. When he makes a commitment, there is no doubt he will follow though," says Mr. Cheney. "As a result, America's friends know they can trust -- and America's enemies know they can fear -- the decisive leadership of President George W. Bush."
Mr. Cheney outlined administration successes in the war on terrorism, from the removal of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to the agreement by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to dismantle his nation's weapons of mass destruction.
The vice president then turned his attention to Democratic challenger John Kerry, listing what he called "inconsistencies and changing rationales" in Mr. Kerry's positions.
"In his years in Washington, Senator Kerry has been one vote in 100 in the United States Senate. And fortunately, on mattes of national security, he was very often in the minority," says Mr. Cheney. "But the presidency is an entirely different proposition. The president always casts the deciding vote. And the senator from Massachusetts has given us ample doubts about his judgment and the attitude he brings to bear on vital issues of national security."
Mr. Kerry, speaking at a university in Washington D.C., said the Bush administration misled the U.S. people about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and is now misleading the people about the costs of rebuilding that country.
"We're still bogged down in Iraq, and the administration stubbornly holds to failed unilateral policies that drive potential significant, important longstanding allies away from us," says Mr. Kerry. "What we have seen is a steady loss of lives and mounting costs in dollars to the American taxpayer, with no end in sight."
But Mr. Kerry said the United States must help achieve a peaceful and stable Iraq. He added that leaving too soon would lead to a failed state that could become a haven for terrorists. He called for a reversal of what he termed the Bush administration's "stubborn pursuit" of "arrogant policies."
Mr. Cheney, in California, said if the decision had been Mr. Kerry's, Saddam Hussein would still be in power in Iraq. He added, to the laughter of an audience of Republican supporters, that Saddam Hussein would still control Kuwait, if it had been up to Mr. Kerry.