DAYTON, Ohio – Vice President Dick Cheney (search) ridiculed John Kerry's (search) call for a "more sensitive" war on terror Thursday, saying it won't impress the Sept. 11 terrorists or the Islamic militants who have beheaded U.S. citizens.
"America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive," Cheney told supporters in this swing state. "A sensitive war will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans. ... The mensensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side and lives up to American values in history."
Kerry spokesman Phil Singer said Thursday that Cheney was being disingenuous and twisting the four-term Massachusetts senator's words. Singer noted that President Bush had used the word "sensitive."
"Dick Cheney's desperate misleading attacks now have him criticizing George Bush's own words, who called for America to be 'sensitive about expressing our power and influence.' Dick Cheney doesnt understand that arrogance isn't a virtue, especially when our country is in danger. ... If Dick Cheney learned this lesson instead of spending his time distorting John Kerry's words, this country would be a safer place," Singer said.
Cheney also criticized Kerry's record on the Senate Intelligence Committee, saying he missed most of the panel's public hearings and proposed cutting the intelligence budget. The Kerry campaign has noted that the cuts in intelligence came as the Cold War was ending, when Republicans and Democrats were proposing similar reductions.
Cheney said sensitivity is not likely to win a war. "Those who threaten us and kill innocents around the world do not need to be treated more sensitively. They need to be destroyed," he said.
None of the country's military heroes would follow Kerry's advice, he told an audience that included many veterans.
"President Lincoln and Gen. Grant did not wage sensitive wars. Nor did President Roosevelt or Gens. Eisenhower and MacArthur," he said. "As our opponents see it, the problem isn't the thugs and murderers that we face, but our attitude. We, the American people, know better."
Polls show Kerry and running mate John Edwards with a small lead in Ohio, a state that usually votes with the winner. Bush has been here 20 times since taking office, and Kerry has visited 12 times just this year.
Cheney's remarks were the latest biting criticism by the vice president of Kerry. On Wednesday, Cheney said the Democratic nominee lacks "deeply held convictions about right and wrong."
The issue of a "more sensitive" war also came up a day earlier, when a questioner asked about it in Joplin, Mo. A Bush-Cheney campaign official called that a coincidence.
In Joplin, where the vice president and his wife, Lynne, took questions, a questioner asked Mrs. Cheney "what in the world" Kerry was thinking about when he called for a more sensitive war.
"I just kind of shook my head when I heard that," Lynne Cheney said. "With all due respect to the senator, it just sounded so foolish. I can't imagine that al-Qaida is going to be impressed by sensitivity."
The vice president did not respond to this question on Wednesday.