Kerry says Bush manipulates fear of terror
Thu 15 April, 2004 20:41
By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Democratic White House challenger John Kerry has accused President George W. Bush of manipulating fears about security and terror for political gain.
At a morning fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee, Kerry said "on a fair playing field in this race we're going to win" and Republicans were in trouble if he raised enough money to counter ads defining him as a waffling, tax-and-spend liberal.
Kerry, who is running even with or leading Bush in most polls seven months before the November election, said on Thursday the president wanted to turn the political debate to issues of terror and security in hopes of gaining political advantage.
"Home base for George Bush, as we saw to the nth degree in the press conference, is terror. Ask him a question, he's going to terror," Kerry said, referring to Bush's prime-time news conference on Tuesday.
"Everything he did in Iraq he's going to try to persuade people has to do with terror even though everybody here knows it had nothing whatsoever to do with al Qaeda and everything to do with an agenda that they had preset," he told the breakfast crowd at New York's "21" restaurant.
"Part of my task obviously is to convince America -- we don't have to beat him on it -- but we have to convince America of my ability to be able to manage that as effectively or more effectively if possible, and I think we can," the Massachusetts senator said.
Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt called Kerry's comments "outrageous," saying, "They are the latest example of him playing politics with the most serious issue of our time: winning the war on terror."
Kerry, who has been the target of tens of millions of dollars of negative ads from Bush, said he planned to launch a "positive, affirmative advertising campaign" in the next few days to introduce himself to voters.
"A lot of people still don't know who I am," he said. "The level of communication we still need to undertake here is enormous."
The Bush campaign launched an ad attacking Kerry's voting record on funding for American troops, concluding with the line, "John Kerry: Wrong on defence." At the same time, officials said the Bush campaign was entering a new phase and would cut back from running three ads at one time to running only one.
Terror doesn't scare me but I like it when people are concerned about preventing Terrorism.