WASHINGTON – Presidential candidate John Kerry (search) said Wednesday he does not share fellow Democrat Howard Dean's (search) position that President Bush's decision to send troops to Iraq appears to have been a factor in the Spanish train bombing.
The chairman of Bush's re-election campaign called on Kerry to repudiate the comment that Dean made during a conference call arranged by the Kerry campaign.
"The president was the one who dragged our troops to Iraq, which apparently has been a factor in the death of 200 Spaniards over the weekend," Dean said as he defended Kerry from a Bush television ad that accused Kerry of turning his back on U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq.
Asked about the comment on his campaign plane Wednesday, Kerry said, "It's not our position."
Bush campaign chairman Marc Racicot (search) said Dean blamed the deaths on Bush and the war on terror when they were caused by a global terror network.
"If Senator Kerry understands the nature of this threat and the need to take on terror, then he should immediately repudiate these troubling comments, and stop all efforts on behalf of his surrogates to blame America for these attacks," said Racicot, former governor of Montana.
A growing international investigation is focusing on Islamic militants possibly linked to Al Qaeda as the culprits in the Madrid train bombings last Thursday. A man who identified himself as an Al Qaeda spokesman said on a videotape that the bombings were in retaliation for Spain's backing of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Dean, who ran unsuccessfully against Kerry in the Democratic primary and is now supporting his campaign, said he was simply repeating the connection made on the tape. In a statement issued Tuesday night, Dean clarified his comment by insisting there is no justification for terrorism and calling last week's bombing "a despicable act."