Cheney Slams Kerry on Security

The Soviet Union might still exist and Saddam Hussein (search) might control the Persian Gulf and possess nuclear weapons had Democrat John Kerry (search) been president when the United States faced those regimes, Vice President Dick Cheney (search) said Saturday.

"I think it's a good thing that he wasn't in charge," Cheney said.

Kerry asserted Friday that had he been president during the war in Afghanistan, terrorist leader Osama bin Laden would be in captivity or dead. The Democratic nominee has long criticized President Bush for abandoning the pursuit of the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks so that U.S. forces could invade Iraq and topple Saddam.

Contending that the Massachusetts senator was "claiming that the world would be a whole lot better if he had been president," Cheney suggested to supporters at a rally that he believed the world would be far worse off.

"Let's go back to the 1970s when John Kerry was saying that we should only deploy U.S. troops under the authority of the United Nations," the vice president said, citing a statement Kerry made in 1970 after returning from Vietnam service. "One way the world might look if he had been in charge is, we would have ceded our right to defend ourselves to the United Nations."

Cheney said Kerry campaigned for the Senate on a platform of opposing major weapons systems that, during the Reagan administration, helped win the Cold War. "So if John Kerry had been in charge, maybe the Soviet Union would still be in business," the vice president said.

Kerry voted against going to war in the Persian Gulf in 1991 after Saddam had invaded Kuwait. "So if John Kerry had been in charge, Saddam might well control the Persian Gulf today," Cheney said. "After the Gulf War (news - web sites), international inspectors judged that Saddam would have been armed with nuclear weapons by the early '90s. So not only would Saddam control a crucial part of the Middle East, he might well have nuclear weapons."

Cheney said Kerry recently contended that the United States must pass "some kind of global test before we could take military action" and assured supporters "the president and I know better than that." However, Kerry actually said the "global test" would come after the United States had taken pre-emptive action and has vowed never to allow another country to determine how the United States would defend itself.

New Mexico is considered a swing state in the Nov. 2 election, as is neighboring Colorado, which Cheney also visited Saturday. Bush won Colorado easily in 2000 and lost New Mexico by a tiny margin.