- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 10, 2004

MIAMI (AP) — Sen. John Edwards said it was a mistake to believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, as he paused a Midwest campaign swing to make the round of talk shows yesterday.

The Democratic vice presidential nominee defended his record and criticized President Bush in appearances on five programs, while Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry campaigned in southern Florida.

Mr. Edwards later stopped at a diner in West Allis, Wis., where he criticized Mr. Bush’s handling of the economy and promised to create more jobs and support working women by improving health care and child care.

“This is the first president in 70-plus years who didn’t create jobs,” the North Carolina senator said to about 40 working women.

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Edwards was asked — as Mr. Bush was in the presidential debate on Friday — to name three mistakes during his time in office. He named two, saying it was a mistake to vote for Rod Paige as education secretary and to believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, Mr. Bush’s primary rationale for invading that country.

Mr. Edwards, however, said he did not regret his vote in Congress for the war resolution because it was right to confront Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. And the senator defended that vote in light of his previous statements calling Iraq an extreme threat.

“It was the right thing to confront Saddam Hussein. And that’s why I voted for the resolution, that’s why John [Kerry] voted for the resolution. But we didn’t authorize this president and vice president to make the mess that they’ve made,” Mr. Edwards said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

On “Meet the Press,” he said that even knowing today that there were no weapons of mass destruction, he still would make the same decision to vote for the resolution and confront Saddam.

Democratic elections scheduled for next year in Iraq won’t prove the war was right, Mr. Edwards said on CNN.

“If you look at what’s happening on the ground in Iraq right now, … I think even the administration people would say there is a serious issue about whether these elections can take place as planned,” Mr. Edwards added on “Late Edition.”

Steve Schmidt, a spokesman for the Bush campaign, dismissed Mr. Edwards’ comments.

“John Edwards today shattered his credibility when he said that Iraq was not a danger when, in fact, he said that Iraq was an imminent threat to the United States,” Mr. Schmidt said.

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