President Bush has brought the oldest ally of the United States into his re-election campaign as a reason not to vote for his opponent, Sen. John Kerry.

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice (search) denied Sunday that Bush was holding France up to ridicule for saying in a campaign speech that Kerry would let "countries like France" decide when to use American force.

Bush's audience in Allentown, Pa., booed at the mention of France.

"There's no ridicule here. It's a statement of fact: The French didn't agree," Rice said on a cable news show.

She said French President Jacques Chirac's (search) government believed it was taking a principled stand, but "I remember that the French foreign minister said, essentially, there was no (United Nations) resolution that they would vote for that would lead to war. Well, at that point, you have to make a decision."

Because of France's veto power on the U.N. Security Council (search), the Bush administration eventually formed a "coalition of the willing" outside the United Nations, with Britain as the principal junior partner, for the March 2003 invasion. The French position sparked U.S. boycotts of French goods and other reactions such as the renaming of french fries in a Capitol restaurant to "freedom fries."

Kerry did not mention France in the first presidential debate last Thursday.

He said that should a U.S. president begin a pre-emptive war, "you've got to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people, understand fully why you're doing what you're doing; and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons."

Bush's campaign pounced on the comment, saying it showed Kerry's willingness to give foreign governments veto power over U.S. war-making authority.

France has been a U.S. ally since before the United States existed, aiding colonists in the Revolutionary War against Britain.