Published September 15, 2004
BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. – Vice President Dick Cheney (search) turned Sen. John Kerry's (search) own words against him Tuesday while criticizing the Democrat for calling the war in Iraq "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time."
In an echo of a charge President Bush leveled at Kerry last week, Cheney contended that Kerry's position was held early in the primary campaign by Democratic presidential rival Howard Dean (search).
"Sen. Kerry said, and I quote, 'Those who doubted whether Iraq (search) or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein (search) and those who believe today that we are not safer with his capture, don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president,"' Cheney said.
"In the spirit of bipartisanship, that's one position of Sen. Kerry's that I do agree with," he said.
Last December, Dean questioned whether Saddam's capture made the world safer, drawing criticism from his Democratic rivals, including Kerry who questioned his judgment and credibility.
While campaigning in West Virginia on Sept. 6, Kerry said, "It's the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." Dean made a similar remark in Iowa last December. The phrase had been used before by other critics of the Bush administration, including Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and dates at least to the Korean War (search) when that conflict appeared to become a stalemate.
Cheney said Kerry had changed his position on the war several times, from supporting the president's request for congressional approval to use force against the Iraqi dictator to voting against additional funding for the war.
"In all the national campaigns that I've watched up close, I've never seen a candidate go back and forth so many times on a single issue," the vice president said. "His back-and-forth reflects a habit of indecision, and sends a message of confusion. And it's all part of a pattern."
Cheney, who spoke to more than 500 people in a cavernous cotton warehouse, touted policies he assured supporters would help build a stronger economy in a region with 14 percent unemployment, more than double the state unemployment rate of 5.6 percent. Mississippi County's economy is largely agriculture-based.
Arkansas has lost nearly 5,800 jobs since Bush took office.
"This is a strong economy, it's a growing economy. The Bush tax cuts are working," Cheney said.
On Monday, former Democratic candidate Wesley Clark, a resident of Little Rock, criticized the Bush administration's foreign and domestic policies.
"In Arkansas, we're always happy when national leaders come by from any party, especially our president or vice president," Clark told reporters before Cheney's visit. "But the Bush administration has a lot of making up to do to ordinary people across America, including those of us in Arkansas."