Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry says Tuesday's news that the U.S. military death toll in Iraq has reached more than 1,000 is a tragic milestone in the conflict there.

Shortly after landing at an airport near Cincinnati, Ohio, Senator Kerry told reporters that his thoughts and prayer are with the families of those who have lost soldiers in Iraq.

"We understand what that loss means," he said. "We understand that sacrifice and we are determined that as a nation we will always remember it, we will always stand up and fight for what they have fought for. And their sacrifice will not be in vain. We are committed to making the right decisions in Iraq and the right decisions for them here at home and that is the way that we will honor their sacrifice.

Earlier in the day, Senator Kerry told a campaign rally in North Carolina that Iraq is costing the United States not only lives, but money. Money he says that could be used for domestic programs.

"It is almost $200 billion now and I say to everybody in North Carolina that is $200 billion that we are not investing in health care in America," he said. "That is $200 billion we are not investing in schools in America. That is $200 billion that we are not investing in prescription drugs for seniors."

President Bush accuses Senator Kerry of changing his position on Iraq back and forth and the president's Republican supporters sometimes show up at Kerry rallies and heckle him as a flip-flopper.

Mr. Kerry voted for the congressional resolution authorizing force in Iraq but now says the president acted without adequate international support and mishandled the aftermath of the Iraq invasion.

Senator Kerry is expected to continue to criticize the president's record on Iraq in a speech in Ohio on Wednesday.