Published February 21, 2004
| Associated Press
ATLANTA – A leading Georgia Republican, speaking for President Bush's re-election campaign, predicted trouble for John Kerry (search) in the state's primary next month.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (search) said Saturday that the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination has a "32-year history of voting to cut defense programs and cut defense systems."
Kerry said he stood by his record.
"I don't know what it is that all these Republicans who didn't serve in Vietnam are fighting a war against those of us who did," the Massachusetts senator said during an interview taped Saturday for broadcast Sunday morning on ABC's "This Week."
"I look forward to having a great debate with them about how you make America secure," Kerry said.
Kerry was traveling to Atlanta Saturday to seek support for the March 2 primary. Georgia is one of 10 states choosing electoral delegates that day.
Kerry has campaigned on his Vietnam combat record, which includes three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star.
Chambliss won his Senate seat in 2002 from incumbent Max Cleland (search), a triple-amputee Vietnam veteran, after painting Cleland as too soft on homeland security.
Chambliss said in a conference call arranged by the Bush campaign that Georgia voters would be looking at Kerry's voting record, and "beyond what he says."
Cleland, a Democrat, criticized Chambliss for the attack on Kerry.
"For Saxby Chambliss, who got out of going to Vietnam because of a trick knee, to attack John Kerry as weak on the defense of our nation is like a mackerel in the moonlight that both shines and stinks," he said.