MOORHEAD, Minn. – Amid new questions about the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq, Vice President Dick Cheney (search) attacked rival John Kerry's (search) record on national security Monday as misguided and misleading.
The vice president zeroed in on Kerry's remarks over the weekend about a book he wrote a decade ago entitled "The New War," declaring that the Democrat has been "sort of burnishing his credentials in the counterterrorism area."
In the book, Kerry "talks about Yasser Arafat (search) as a statesman ... I've never looked on Yasser Arafat in quite that light," Cheney told hundreds of supporters.
Also, Kerry "talks about the primary answer to terrorism being law enforcement," Cheney added. "If you think only law enforcement is the way to respond to terror, you've got a pre-9/11 mind-set; there's no mention in the book of Al Qaeda."
The Kerry campaign said Cheney had taken a sentence in the book out of context.
At no time during his opening remarks on a college campus or in a brief question-and-answer session did Cheney make any mention of the new disclosure that hundreds of tons of explosives have disappeared in Iraq. The Cheney campaign referred questions to the White House.
The Kerry campaign fired back at the Cheney campaign's criticism.
"On the date that we learned the White House failed to secure 380 tons of highly explosive material, it's hardly surprising that Dick Cheney (search) wants to change the subject," said Kerry campaign spokesman Phil Singer.
On Iraq, Cheney criticized as misleading Kerry's comments during the second presidential debate about consulting with the United Nations Security Council on whether to authorize the use of force.
Citing a news story, Cheney said four ambassadors on the Security Council said they'd never met Kerry.
"So the problem here I think is ..." Cheney told the crowd.
"He's a liar," a member of the audience yelled, interrupting the vice president.
Cheney chuckled and said, "Now the press is going to attribute that to me."
The Kerry campaign insisted the senator had met with the Security Council.
"It was a closed meeting and private discussion whose purpose was to determine whether other countries would stand with the United States in its efforts to hold Saddam accountable," said Singer.