TIPTON, Iowa – John Kerry (search), fighting back after President Bush accused him of dangerous policies, said Tuesday that Bush had made wrong choices "time and again when he had a chance to be able to protect us more effectively."
Bush's Democratic campaign rival said the president "didn't put enough troops in" Iraq after the first fighting brought down Saddam Hussein's government "Now Paul Bremer (search) is saying what a terrible mistake it was. The president needs to take accountability for his own judgments."
Bremer, whom Bush appointed as head of the Iraq occupation, said Monday that the United States did not have enough troops in Iraq after ousting Saddam, failed to stop widespread looting and "paid a big price for not stopping it because it established an atmosphere of lawlessness."
In the presidential fight, Bush said Monday in Iowa concerning Kerry, "The policies of my opponent are dangerous for world peace. If they were implemented they would make this world not more peaceful but more dangerous."
Kerry said Tuesday, "Well, that's the sort of blanket scare tactic of the administration rather than trying to deal with the real choices before the country."
"What we are looking for here is presidential leadership that could make America safer," Kerry said. "I can make America safer in homeland security. I can make America safer with a plan for success in Iraq. And I can make America safer with the plan to bring allies back to the effort for the legitimate war on terror."
Earlier Tuesday, Kerry said Vice President Dick Cheney (search) should acknowledge mistakes made in Iraq, pointing to Bremer's remarks that more troops had been needed in the aftermath of war.
"I hope tonight Mr. Cheney can acknowledge those mistakes," the Democratic presidential candidate said. "I hope Mr. Cheney can take responsibility."
Cheney will face Kerry's running mate, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (search), in the only vice presidential debate Tuesday night in Cleveland.
Bush-Cheney spokesman Brian Jones said in response to Kerry's remarks, "Ambassador Bremer differed with the commanders in the field. That is his right, but the president has always said that he will listen to his commanders on the ground and give them the support they need for victory."
Jones said Bremer had kept to his views about the importance of removing Saddam Hussein and "this consistency stands in stark contrast to the shifting positions of John Kerry who voted for the war, voted against the troops for political gain."
Bremer returned to the United States after Iraqi leaders retook political control in June.
Kerry said voters should consider the fact that the president hasn't admitted mistakes in Iraq as a reflection of his judgment. The Massachusetts senator said the question was whether the president was "constitutionally incapable of acknowledging the truth" or "just so stubborn."
Kerry said he had proven his own judgment by choosing to serve in Vietnam and then raising questions about U.S. action there when he returned home. His war protests after he left the Navy have brought criticism from some veterans.
"When I saw the mistakes I stood up when I came back, and I had the courage to point them out to the American people," Kerry said.