WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – President Bush said Friday that "Americans will not be intimidated" by Usama bin Laden (search) as a new videotape of the terrorist leader surfaced four days before the election. Campaign rival John Kerry criticized Bush for failing to capture bin Laden earlier and said that "I can run a more effective War on Terror."
The sudden surfacing of the bin Laden tape jolted the campaign's closing days, accentuating the terrorism theme that already had been a dominant issue. Bush and Kerry made hurried appearances before television cameras to respond.
"Let me make this very clear," Bush said in Toledo, Ohio, standing next to Air Force One (search). "Americans will not be intimidated or influenced by an enemy of our country. I'm sure Senator Kerry agrees with this."
Kerry, too, said, "My reaction is that all of us in this city are completely united." But he criticized Bush for not capturing bin Laden earlier, and he added pointedly, "I believe I can run a more effective War on Terror than George Bush."
On the videotape, aired by the Arab television station Al-Jazeera, bin Laden address Americans: "Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or Al Qaeda (search). Your security is in your own hands."
Bush said intelligence officials continued to analyze the tape. The administration said it believed the tape was authentic and had been made recently.
Bush said, "We are at war with these terrorists and I am confident that we will prevail."
Kerry, in an interview with WISM in Milwaukee, said of Bush, "He didn't choose to use American forces to hunt down Usama bin Laden. He outsourced the job." Kerry has criticized Bush throughout the campaign for failing to capture the leader of the terrorists who struck the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, questioning U.S. strategy in pursuing bin Laden in Afghanistan.
"Democrat, Republican, there's no such thing," Kerry said. "There's just America and we are all united in hunting down and capturing or killing those who conducted that raid and we always knew that that was Usama bin Laden."
"My policy is there's no such thing as negotiation with terrorists," the Democratic candidate said. "And terrorists, terrorism are going to be hunted down and killed, we are united on that."
"I am absolutely confident I have the ability to make America safer," he said.