- The Washington Times - Monday, October 4, 2004

Democrats yesterday defended Sen. John Kerry’s statement during Thursday’s presidential debate that there must be a “global test” for the pre-emptive use of military power.

Appearing on CNN’s “Late Edition” with Wolf Blitzer, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe was asked if Mr. Kerry “in effect, is going to give France and other countries veto power of how the United States can defend itself?”

“First and foremost, [Mr. Kerry] said [he] will go in pre-emptively if [he had] to do it. If we have to move pre-emptively, we will go ahead and do it,” Mr. McAuliffe said.

Mr. Kerry told moderator Jim Lehrer during Thursday’s debate that “no president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to pre-empt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.”

“But if and when you do it … you’ve got to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test, where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you’re doing what you’re doing and you can prove to the world that did you it for legitimate reasons.”

Also appearing on CNN with Mr. McAuliffe was former Vermont governor and presidential hopeful Howard Dean, who said Mr. Kerry was very specific on why a global test is needed.

“The global test is that you’ve got to prove to your own people that you’re doing the right thing. George Bush didn’t do it. George Bush just told us a lot of things that turned out not to be true,” he said.

Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, also on CNN, hammered the “global test” issue and said President Bush “exposed a major vulnerability in one of Mr. Kerry’s central rationales for his candidacy.”

“Sen. Kerry laid out for us a new clarity in terms of his wanting to impose a global test … on how and if we can act pre-emptively in our own national-security interest,” Mr. Gillespie said. “I think that’s a major difference.”

The Bush campaign released a new television ad dissecting Mr. Kerry’s debate statement and questioning whether the nation “must seek permission from foreign governments before protecting America.”

The ad says that foreign policy should be decided by the White House, not foreign countries.

New polls suggest that Mr. Bush lost the debate on style, but Republicans said yesterday he established core convictions that will not allow “global tests” to determine how the U.S. defends itself against terrorists.

“There’s a difference between having style and having rhetorical points,” said Dan Bartlett, White House communications director, on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

The spokesman called it a “telling moment” and a “clear difference” in the two candidates’ positions that Mr. Kerry would require a “global test” before going to war.

“We ought to have American security interests decided by the president of the United States, not by foreign capitals,” Mr. Bartlett said.

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