WASHINGTON – Presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry (search) on Friday collected the endorsement of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers (search), a police union that backed President Bush in the 2000 election.
"After three and a half years of disappointing leadership under George Bush, we need to change course in November and elect a president with a real record of supporting police officers and a lifetime of standing with law enforcement," IBPO President David Holway (search) said in a statement provided by the Kerry campaign.
The union endorsed Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. Kerry scheduled a round-table discussion with members of the group on Friday to talk about law enforcement issues.
In a statement provided by the Bush campaign, a former New York City police commissioner said Bush has provided unprecedented support for first responders, including $13 billion to state and local governments to prepare for terrorism.
"The president has given law enforcement the tools to do their job in the Patriot Act, while John Kerry attacks the law on the campaign trail," former commissioner Bernard Kerik said.
Earlier Friday, Kerry laid two wreaths at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial (search), which honors 16,666 officers killed in the line of duty. One of the wreaths was for the national memorial but the other, in a Massachusetts section, honored a Middlesex County officer killed on this date in 1961. Kerry, a former Middlesex County prosecutor, chatted with officers and family members during the 15-minute visit.
In an unexpected visit Thursday night to the Capitol, Kerry viewed photographs depicting abuse of Iraqi prisoners in U.S. custody. He made a last-minute decision to travel to the Senate and then spent 45 minutes viewing the photographs in a secure location, spokesman David Wade said.
Lawmakers who saw the photographs earlier in the day reacted with revulsion. Wade said Kerry had no comment.
Kerry said in a television interview Thursday he welcomed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's trip to Baghdad but had not changed his view that Rumsfeld should resign.
"I'm glad the secretary of defense went there. The troop morale needs, I think, that kind of visit," Kerry said on Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes." "I don't think it changes the dynamics of what America still needs to do to get to the bottom of this."
The Massachusetts senator has warned that the reports of abuse in the Iraqi prison threaten to undermine the effort to combat terrorism in the Middle East by infuriating Arabs suspicious about U.S. intentions in the region.
Republicans have accused Kerry of politicizing the war on terrorism. Viewing the photos was an effort to gather all the facts before weighing in on the issue any further, Wade said.
Kerry planned to fly to his home in Boston for a day off on Saturday. He resumes his campaign on Sunday with a trip to Las Vegas before visiting Kansas to mark the anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision ending segregated schools.