NEW YORK – Democratic White House hopeful John Edwards, in a major foreign policy speech Wednesday, minimized the Bush administration's War on Terror as nothing more than a "bumper sticker slogan" used to justify the war in Iraq and "bludgeon political opponents."
"It is now clear that George Bush's misnamed 'War on Terror' has backfired — and is now part of the problem," Edwards told the Council of Foreign Relations in New York. "The War on Terror is a slogan designed only for politics, not a strategy to make America safe. It's a bumper sticker, not a plan."
Edwards proposed foreign policy changes from the direction taken by the Bush administration, calling on Congress not to back down to White House pressure for a bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without requiring a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces. Congressional leaders said Tuesday that they are close to a deal that would fund the wars without a timetable for withdrawal.
"Every member of Congress should stand their ground on this issue and do everything in their power to block this bill," Edwards said. "Congress should send President Bush another bill funding the troops, supporting the troops, with a timetable for withdrawal. If the president vetoes that bill, send him another one."
Republican presidential contender Rudy Giuliani, campaigning in New Hampshire, said Edwards is in denial.
"I don't understand why a Democratic candidate would be in denial of what's actually going on," Giuliani told FOX News. "This global War on Terror is going on whether John Edwards recognizes it or not. It's not like it's controlled, there are people planning to come here and kill us all over the world."
Edwards, who lost his bid in 2004 to become vice president, said Bush's strategy has backfired.
"He’s used this doctrine like a sledgehammer to justify the biggest abuses of his administration," Edwards said.
Edwards proposed his own strategy — withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq in less than a year, closing Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and working to rebuild the U.S. military.
In the first presidential debate last month in South Carolina, Edwards was one of four Democrats — including Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel — who said they did not believe there was a global War on Terror. Front-runners Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama indicated that they did.
Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, voted in 2002 to authorize the invasion of Iraq but has since become a harsh critic of the conflict. In his speech, he reiterated his call to remove American combat troops from Iraq within a year and vowed to "restore the contract we have with those who proudly wear the uniform to defend our country and make the world a safe and better place."
Anticipating the speech, the Republican National Committee sent out a research document titled "Edwards' Troop Profiteering," noting that his campaign routinely solicits donations to help Edwards pursue his anti-war efforts.
"One can't help but wonder how John Edwards is comfortable beefing up his campaign coffers at the expense of our troops," RNC spokeswoman Summer Johnson said. "Edward's profiteering isn't only in poor taste but it also illustrates his hunger for the White House trumps his sensitivity toward those serving America."
FOX News' Carl Cameron and The Associated Press contributed to this report.