ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Vice President Dick Cheney (search) chastised Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry on Thursday, saying his criticism of Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi (search) showed an appalling "lack of respect."
Allawi, who was in Washington on Thursday to address a joint meeting of Congress and meet with President Bush, gave a rosy portrayal of progress toward peace in his country. Shortly after he spoke, Kerry said the prime minister's assessment contradicted his own previous statements as well as the reality on the ground.
Cheney said Kerry was being disrespectful of a man who had survived an attack by Saddam Hussein's (search) assassins.
"I must say I was appalled at the complete lack of respect Senator Kerry showed for this man of courage, when he rushed to hold a press conference and attack the prime minister, a man America must stand beside to defeat the terrorists," Cheney told several thousand supporters.
"John Kerry is trying to tear down all the good that has been accomplished, and his words are destructive to our effort in Iraq and in the global war on terror," Cheney said. "As Prime Minister Allawi said in his speech, and I quote, 'When political leaders sound the siren of defeatism in the face of terrorism, it only encourages more violence.' End quote."
Cheney said Kerry has changed his position on the Iraq war many times and that voters face a clear choice on Nov. 2 between Bush's "steadfast leadership and clear determination" and Kerry, "who seems to adopt a new position every day."
The audience mocked Kerry with chants of "flip-flop! flip-flop!"
Michael Golden, a Kerry spokesman in Missouri, said Kerry was simply telling the truth about the situation in Iraq.
"He is leveling with the American people," Golden said. "That is what we need in a president."
Kerry, who was in Ohio on Thursday, said of Allawi: "I think the prime minister is obviously contradicting his own statement of a few days ago, where he said the terrorists are pouring into the country. The prime minister and the president are here obviously to put their best face on the policy, but the fact is that the CIA estimates, the reporting, the ground operations and the troops all tell a different story."