[Mb-civic] NYTimes.com Article: Cheney Warns of Terror Risk if
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Cheney Warns of Terror Risk if Kerry Wins
September 8, 2004
By DAVID E. SANGER
and DAVID M. HALBFINGER
COLUMBIA, Mo., Sept. 7 - Stepping up the battle over
national security, Vice President Dick Cheney warned on
Tuesday that the country would be at risk of a terror
attack if it made "the wrong choice" in November, and
President Bush accused Senator John Kerry of adopting the
antiwar language of his Democratic primary rival Howard
Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney delivered their accusations in
separate appearances as Mr. Kerry, for the second day in a
row, attacked Mr. Bush's "wrong choices." The Democratic
contender said that of all of them "the most catastrophic
choice is the mess that he has made in Iraq."
The debate was underscored as the deaths of American
military personnel and Defense Department civilians working
in Iraq reached 1,000.
Mr. Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, called it a
"tragic milestone" and a reminder that "we must meet our
sacred obligation to all our troops to do all we can to
make the right decisions in Iraq so that we can bring them
home as soon as possible."
Mr. Bush never mentioned the figure on a bus tour across
Missouri. But at the very moment he was criticizing Mr.
Kerry as having flip-flopped on Iraq, his press secretary,
Scott McClellan, told reporters that the 1,000 men and
women had died "so that we defeat the ideologies of hatred
[On Wednesday morning, President Bush commented on U.S.
military deaths in Iraq during a meeting with congressional
leaders, saying "we mourn every loss of life."]
As the candidates tried to discuss the economy- Mr. Bush
hailed the benefits of his tax cuts for small businesses
and Mr. Kerry warned that the administration's tax policy
encouraged jobs to move overseas - Iraq and terrorism once
again fueled their increasingly bitter cross-country
argument an issue that is likely to remain front and
"It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on
Nov. 2, we make the right choice," Mr. Cheney told a crowd
of 350 people in Des Moines, "because if we make the wrong
choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and
we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the
standpoint of the United States."
He also said if Mr. Kerry was elected the nation risked
lapsing to a "pre-9/11 mind-set'' where attacks are viewed
as criminal acts, not part of a war against terrorism.
Mr. Kerry's running mate, Senator John Edwards, promptly
said Mr. Cheney had "crossed the line."
"What he said to the American people,'' Mr. Edwards said,
"was that if you go to the polls in November and elect
anyone other than us, then another terrorist attack occurs,
it's your fault. This is un-American.''
Anne Womack, a spokeswoman for Mr. Cheney, said that the
vice president's comment was taken out of context, and that
he was addressing policy differences.
"Whoever is elected is going to face the prospect of
another terrorist attack,'' Ms. Womack said. "The question
is whether we will have the right policies in place to
protect our country." Mr. Kerry plans to speak on Wednesday
about mistakes in Iraq from the restored train station in
Cincinnati. That is where Mr. Bush laid out his argument
nearly two years ago that President Saddam Hussein of Iraq
was amassing large stockpiles of weapons of mass
destruction and might soon be able to strike the United
No evidence of weapons of mass destruction has surfaced in
Mr. Kerry's campaign also plans a new advertisement, "Wrong
Choices," that links the war and domestic and economic
issues. The spot opens with an announcer saying, "George
Bush - $200 billion for Iraq," and continues: "In America,
lost jobs and rising health care costs. George Bush's wrong
choices have weakened us here at home."
For his part, from his first stop this morning on a
football field in Lee's Summit to a late-afternoon rally at
a fairgrounds here, Mr. Bush ridiculed Mr. Kerry for saying
on Monday that Iraq was "the wrong war in the wrong place
at the wrong time."
"He woke up yesterday morning with yet another new
position," Mr. Bush told more than 10,000 people gathered
for a breakfast-hour rally. "And this one is not even his
own. It is that of his one-time rival, Howard Dean.
"He even used the same words Howard Dean did, back when he
supposedly disagreed with him. No matter how many times
Senator Kerry flip-flops, we were right to make America
safer by removing Saddam Hussein from power."
In citing Dr. Dean's words to mock Mr. Kerry, the president
was clearly trying to associate the Massachusetts senator
with a candidate whom the White House always hoped that it
would face. Mr. Bush's campaign officials have viewed Dr.
Dean as the personification of the liberal pacifist wing of
the Democratic Party, a candidate they could use to excite
Mr. Bush's base and to make undecided voters deeply
uncomfortable at a time of threat.
Mr. Kerry's campaign has tried to keep the focus on Mr.
Bush, arguing that the president, trying to focus solely on
the decision to go to war, is avoiding the far more
unpleasant subjects of his failure to find the weapons that
provided the rationale for invasion or what Mr. Bush called
the "miscalculation" of swift military victory that has
contributed to the 17-month-long insurgency in Iraq.
"This was his choice," Mr. Kerry said in Greensboro, N.C.
"He chose the date of the start of this war, he chose the
moment, and he chose for America to go it alone. And today,
all of America is paying this price."
At another point, Mr. Kerry said: "Let me explain it to him
in a few simple words. It's not that I would have done just
one thing differently in Iraq. I would have done everything
differently in Iraq.
"It was wrong to rush to war without a plan to win the
peace. It was wrong not to show the kind of statesmanship
and leadership that builds a true international coalition
to share the cost and share the burden. And it was wrong to
put our young men and women in harm's way without the body
armor and the Humvees and the equipment and the
reinforcement that they needed."
Mr. Bush's aides, roaming the back of the sprawling
fairgrounds in Sedalia as their boss spoke about the war
against terror on the dirt floor where prize cattle are
usually judged and auctioned, worked hard to put Mr. Kerry
on the defensive and keep him there.
The aides spent the day shooting Blackberry messages to one
another and reporters with quotations from Mr. Kerry that
seemed to contradict his statement on the "wrong war in the
wrong place at the wrong time."
In a debate in May 2003 among Democratic hopefuls, Mr.
Kerry was asked by George Stephanopoulos of ABC News
whether the decision to invade Iraq was the right one.
"George, I said at the time I would have preferred if we
had given diplomacy a greater opportunity," Mr. Kerry said.
"But I think it was the right decision to disarm Saddam
Hussein. And when the president made the decision, I
supported him, and I support the fact that we did disarm
Dr. Dean, in contrast, called it "the wrong war at the
wrong time, because we have set a new policy of preventive
war in this country," words that Mr. Kerry seemed to echo
The Kerry campaign said on Tuesday that many people had
used similar language and cited a May interview in which
Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, a retired Marine commander who broke
ranks with Mr. Bush over Iraq, called it "the wrong war,
the wrong place and the wrong time, with little or no
Despite the increasing ferocity of the Iraq debate, neither
candidate has been very specific about how to deal with the
Iraq that one of them will have to work with on Jan. 20.
Mr. Kerry has said he will seek to have all American troops
out of the country within four years. Mr. Bush has set no
timetables and declined to talk about how much of the
mission of stabilizing and transforming the country needs
to be accomplished before Americans can leave.
Instead, with his shirt-sleeves rolled up while taking
questions in Sedalia, Mr. Bush shot back at Mr. Kerry's
argument that the president had twisted the arms of
unwilling nations to participated in an ill-planned
"My opponent called them 'the coerced and the bribed,' "
Mr. Bush said of the other nations in Iraq. "That's
denigrating allies. Tony's Blair's a standup guy."
Mr. Bush continued, praising the Australians, the Poles and
other contingents."These aren't "the coerced and the
bribed,' '' he said. "These are the brave and the
At his "Ask President Bush" event here , Mr. Bush dodged
several questions, including one from a supporter who
worried about an overstretched military.
"We don't need a draft," Mr. Bush said, insisting that the
all-volunteer Army could meet the country's needs.
Two questioners invited him to denounce Germany and France.
"Why are the French so ungrateful for what all we have done
for that nation, especially in the past?" one asked.
Mr. Bush stumbled for a moment, saying, "We just try to
work with everybody as best we can," and discussed the
value of coalitions.
Then, catching himself, he said, "I'm not going to touch
Mr. Kerry, at his event said, "We need a president who has
the statesmanship and the ability to bring other countries
to a table they ought to be at," he said to rousing
applause, "because the world has a stake in the outcome of
the war on terror."
He added that it was also time for the Iraqis to "stand up
and say, if they want the freedom, they're going to start
to embrace it, and they're going to do their part to make
it happen, and we need a president who can make that
"You don't shove freedom down people's throats at the end
of a gun barrel."
David E. Sanger reported from Columbia for this article,
and David M. Halbfinger from Greensboro, N.C. Rick Lyman
contributed reporting from Des Moines, and Randal C.
Archibold from Chillicothe, Ohio.
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