MINNEAPOLIS – Sen. John Edwards (search) on Tuesday assailed Vice President Dick Cheney (search) for claiming Iraq was "a remarkable success story" and argued that the Bush administration is out of touch with the reality of the failure there.
"Eleven hundred American soldiers have lost their lives, more than 8,000 have been wounded. Terrorists are flowing in. Americans are being kidnapped. We see beheadings (search) on television. The costs are now $225 billion and counting. And, knowing all of this, yesterday all Dick Cheney could say was that Iraq is a remarkable success," Edwards said at the University of Minnesota.
In Wilmington, Ohio, on Monday, Cheney said: "In the weeks and months ahead we've got to be prepared to deal with a difficult situation which our guys are dealing with right now even as we speak, and they will continue to do that as we get more and more Iraqis into the effort over there too. I think it's been a remarkable success story to date when you look at what's been accomplished overall. I think the president deserves great credit for it."
Edwards also blamed the GOP ticket for nearly 400 tons of explosives going missing in Iraq. The White House played down the significance of the missing weapons, but the Democrats seized on the disappearance as proof of Bush's "incompetence."
"These are exactly the kind of explosives terrorists want. They're the dangerous weapons we wanted to keep from falling in the hands of terrorists. And now these explosives are out there and we have no idea who's got them. Dick Cheney calls that a remarkable success," Edwards said.
The Democratic vice presidential candidate said all Bush and Cheney have offered are excuses such as "the weapons didn't disappear during the war, that they were gone by the time our troops got there."
"Again, Dick Cheney calls this a success. George Bush needs to tell the American people the truth about what happened. Not after the election, but now," Edwards said.
Brian Jones, a Bush campaign spokesman, said Edwards lacks credibility to criticize Bush.
"John Edwards has previously stated that Saddam Hussein was 'an imminent threat,' but like John Kerry when the political winds shifted, he conveniently became an anti-war candidate voting against body armor and our troops in Iraq," Jones said.
Later, in Reading, Pa., Edwards debuted a new section of his stump speech in which he asked supporters to picture themselves voting in seven days.
"One week from today, you're going to walk into a voting booth. And you're going to pull aside the curtain and you're going to stand in front of that ballot and you're going to make a choice," he said. "On one side you're going to see George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Four more years of the same. And on the other side you're going to see John Kerry and John Edwards and a fresh start for America."