[Mb-civic] NYTimes.com Article: In Retreat,
Bush Says U.S. Will Win War on Terrorism
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michael at intrafi.com
Wed Sep 1 09:54:35 PDT 2004
The article below from NYTimes.com
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In Retreat, Bush Says U.S. Will Win War on Terrorism
September 1, 2004
By ELISABETH BUMILLER
NASHVILLE, Aug. 31 - President Bush moved to put out a
political brush fire on Tuesday with a forceful declaration
to the nation's largest veterans group that the United
States will win the war on terrorism and that the country
will never show "weakness or uncertainty" on his watch.
A day after NBC broadcast an interview with Mr. Bush in
which he said he did not think the United States could win
the war against terrorism, which has become the focus of
his presidency and his re-election campaign, he raced back
to his optimistic statements that America will prevail.
"In this different kind of war, we may never sit down at a
peace table, but make no mistake about it, we are winning,
and we will win," Mr. Bush told a cheering crowd at the
annual convention of the American Legion.
In the interview with Matt Lauer of NBC, recorded Saturday
and run on Monday, Mr. Bush was asked about the war on
terrorism and replied, "I don't think you can win it."
Democrats immediately seized on the remark as defeatist and
used it to begin a full day of political attacks against
After addressing the veterans, Mr. Bush continued to
backtrack from the comment he made to Mr. Lauer. "I
probably needed to be more articulate about it," Mr. Bush
told Rush Limbaugh, the radio talk show host, in a live
interview in Des Moines.
By then, Senator John Kerry's campaign had jumped on the
president's comments to the American Legion, saying that
they amounted to backpedaling and showed Mr. Bush to be a
flip-flopper - a phrase that Bush officials have used for
months to belittle Mr. Kerry.
"Bush flip-flops on winning the war on terror," read the
e-mail message sent to reporters by Phil Singer, a Kerry
campaign spokesman. Mr. Singer added, "This president has
gone from mission accomplished to mission miscalculated to
mission impossible on the war on terror."
The president in turn began his own new attack on Mr. Kerry
for what he said was the senator's wavering position on a
Pentagon plan to move up to 70,000 troops out of Europe and
Asia over the next decade. Mr. Bush announced his support
for the plan on Aug. 16, and Mr. Kerry's campaign promptly
criticized the realignment as dangerous, particularly the
shift of about 12,000 troops from South Korea to Iraq.
"Within hours after I announced this plan, my opponent came
out against it, and that's his right to do so," Mr. Bush
told the veterans. "He's allowed to say what he believes.
The only problem is that he endorsed the idea just 17 days
As the crowd laughed, he cited a segment of comments Mr.
Kerry made Aug. 1 on "This Week" on ABC. Mr. Kerry, Mr.
Bush recounted, said "I think we can significantly change
the deployment of troops, not just in Iraq, but elsewhere
in the world - the Korean Peninsula, perhaps, Europe,
perhaps. There are great possibilities open to us, but this
administration has very little imagination."
Mr. Bush then said to more laughter, "Well, it takes a lot
of imagination to come out against a position you took just
17 days earlier."
The Kerry campaign countered that the president had
distorted the senator's remarks and that Mr. Kerry had
preceded his comments on Aug. 1 with the caveat, "if the
diplomacy that I believe can be put in place can work."
Kerry aides said he did support redeploying troops from
South Korea, but only if North Korea made concessions in
talks to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.
Laura Bush also joined the fire and counterfire over the
war against terrorism on Tuesday. In an interview with
Diane Sawyer on ABC's "Good Morning America," Mrs. Bush
said that when her husband said he did not think America
could win the war, he was emphasizing the unconventional
nature of the struggle.
"This isn't a war with a country where you're going to have
a surrender at some point," Mrs. Bush told Ms. Sawyer. "But
the fact is, as we look around the world, we are already
winning the war on terror."
Mr. Bush was accompanied on Tuesday by Senator John McCain
of Arizona, who has repeatedly promised to press the
president to denounce commercials by a group of Vietnam War
veterans who say that Mr. Kerry lied about his war record.
Mr. McCain told reporters in Nashville that he had not yet
spoken to the president about the issue, but would try to
do so later in the day. "One thing you don't want to do
with the president of the United States is try to, you
know, really? He knows how I feel. We've discussed that and
many issues. It's important, but it's not the overriding
issue of our relationship."
Mr. McCain also played down Mr. Bush's comments to Mr.
Lauer. "What he meant was, we're never going to have a
peace signing on the Missouri," Mr. McCain said, referring
to Japan's surrender on the battleship Missouri in 1945.
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