HAMPTON, N.H. — Sen. John Kerry yesterday stood by the global test for pre-emptive action he described in last week’s presidential debate, and called President Bush’s attack on it a “pathetic” distortion.
“The test I was talking about is a test of legitimacy — not just in the globe, but elsewhere,” he said. “If you do things that are illegitimate in the eyes of other people, it’s very hard to get them to share the burden and risk with you.
“I will never cede America’s security to any institution or any other country. No one gets a veto over our security. No one.”
His defended the “global test” at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire, when a man asked Mr. Kerry to “set the record straight on what you meant” in Thursday’s debate when he said he believed U.S. pre-emptive military action should be subject to a “global test.”
Mr. Bush over the weekend ridiculed that as the “Kerry doctrine” of national security, and his campaign has begun running a television commercial attacking Mr. Kerry on it. Mr. Bush’s camp says that, even though polls show most Americans believe Mr. Kerry won the debate, the Democrat made several statements that will come back to haunt him.
“He said the U.S. should pass a global test when making decisions to defend itself. The issue is crystal clear — President Bush believes decisions to defend America should remain in the Oval Office,” said Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt.
Mr. Kerry is running his own television ad accusing the president of “lying” about Mr. Kerry’s global test remark.
“All they can do is grab a little phrase and try and play games and scare Americans,” Mr. Kerry said yesterday.
Mr. Kerry and the Democratic National Committee today will identify a campaign team tasked with pursuing claims of voter intimidation and ballot access issues.
On Sunday afternoon, at a town hall in Ohio, a veteran asked the Massachusetts Democrat what he would do about overseas military voters and reports that they may not get their ballots in time, just as many didn’t in 2000.
Mr. Kerry said he was aware of the problems, and the project to be announced today will focus on “national steps we’re taking, because we’re seeing efforts by Republicans, unfortunately, in various parts of the country, to suppress votes, to intimidate people.”
Mr. Kerry was in New Hampshire to attack Mr. Bush’s stem cell research policy, and he appeared at a high school gymnasium with actor Michael J. Fox — who at one point Mr. Kerry called Michael Keaton, confusing the actor with his starring role as Alex P. Keaton on the television show “Family Ties” — at a town hall forum to push for stem cell research.
Mr. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, has become a prominent advocate for research into a cure for the disease.
He said Mr. Bush’s policy of allowing federal funding of stem cell research but restricting it to 19 existing lines was “kind of like he gave us a car and no gas.”
“There’s a ray of light; we’re going toward that light; and John Kerry will make that light brighter, not try to snuff it out, as has happened,” Mr. Fox said.
Mr. Kerry, driving his theme that the president is out of touch with ordinary Americans, said the stem cell research policy is “symbolic of this administration and of our president — it tells a story about how he makes decisions.”
The Bush campaign argued that there was no funding for stem cell research before Mr. Bush came to office, and he has been the only president to fund it.
“The president is ensuring that the research is conducted with the highest ethical standards, and is funding it at record levels,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican and a surgeon, said yesterday. “Scientific research is too important to play politics with, and John Kerry should stop cynically trying to manipulate voters’ emotions.”