MEADVILLE, Pa. – Vice President Dick Cheney (search) on Wednesday questioned whether Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (search) is serious enough to be president, saying that someone who refers to terrorists as a nuisance isn't ready to be commander in chief.
For a story published Sunday in The New York Times Magazine, a reporter asked Kerry what it would take for Americans to feel safe again. "We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance," Kerry said.
Speaking to about 600 supporters at a town hall meeting in northwestern Pennsylvania, Cheney said: "It doesn't strike me that you can ever think of terror or what it strikes at as a nuisance. That says to me that the individual who entertains those thoughts isn't as serious as I want my commander in chief to be."
An adviser to President Bush, retired Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft (search), used the word "nuisance" when he described approaches to terrorism two years ago, according to the Kerry campaign. Scowcroft said the United States can break the back of terrorism "so that it is a horrible nuisance, and not a paralyzing influence."
Scowcroft, the chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, was national security adviser under Presidents Ford and George H.W. Bush and served with Cheney in those administrations.
Cheney was appearing at three campaign events in Pennsylvania, including a presidential debate watch party in Pittsburgh. The latest Quinnipiac University poll of Pennsylvania voters showed Kerry with 46 percent to Bush's 42 percent.
The start of the event was delayed after two of the vice president's motorcycle escorts collided when one of them swerved to avoid a deer. Authorities said the motorcyclists were not seriously injured.