WASHINGTON – On the eve of a foreign policy debate with President Bush, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (search) said in an interview that his explanation of why he voted in favor of additional funding for the war in Iraq before voting against it was "one of those inarticulate moments" in the campaign.
Kerry ultimately voted against providing $87 billion for military operations and aid in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although he initially supported the appropriation when it was to be funded at least in part by rolling back tax cuts for those with the highest incomes, Kerry said he ended up voting against the final version of the bill in the Senate as a protest os a lack of support for troops in the field. Bush has mocked Kerry for saying, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."
"It was just a very inarticulate way of saying something and I had one of those inarticulate moments," Kerry said in an interview broadcast Wednesday on "Good Morning America" on ABC. "But it reflects the truth of the position ... I thought that the wealthiest people of America should share in that burden. It was a protest."
Kerry rejected Bush's assertion that he would prefer that Saddam Hussein still be in power in Iraq and repeated his contention that Bush had misled the nation about the nature of the threat the Iraqi dictator posed.
"We should not have gone into Iraq knowing today what we know," Kerry told ABC. "Knowing there was no imminent threat to America, knowing there were no weapons of mass destruction, knowing there was no connection between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein, I would not have voted to support war."
Kerry was among the senators who voted to authorize Bush to use force against Iraq and has said he would still vote for authorization so that the president could put pressure on Saddam to allow more inspections for weapons. However, the Bush campaign characterizes Kerry's position as an example of vacillation and indecision.