"200 billion dollars. That's what we are spending in Iraq because George Bush chose to go it alone," Kerry says in the ad, to start airing Monday in 13 competitive states where he is on the air. "Now the president tells us we don't have the resources to take care of health care (search) and education here at home. That's wrong."
Suggesting that President Bush (search) ignored domestic ills while focusing on the war abroad, Kerry says: "As president, I'll stop at nothing to get the terrorists before they get us. But I'll also fight to build a stronger middle class."
The $200 billion estimate reflects the campaign's calculation of funds already spent on combat and reconstruction in Iraq, and money anticipated to be spent through next summer, based on congressional reports. The war has cost about $120 billion, according to the White House Office of Budget and Management (search).
Bush has never said there's no money for education (search) or health care. Kerry's campaign bases the claim on its interpretation of Bush's budget proposals for education and reports of rising health care premiums.
"John Kerry has no credibility when it comes to Iraq given the nine different positions he's taken on the matter," said Bush campaign spokesman Brian Jones. "President Bush is a leader who has proven he will be firm and resolute when dealing with terrorist threats and won't burden working families with higher taxes like John Kerry will."
Kerry spent Sunday in Boston, off the campaign trail. His economic plan calls for rolling back Bush's tax cuts for people earning more than $200,000 a year.