- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 5, 2004

GREENSBURG, Pa. — Teresa Heinz Kerry told Democrats in this battleground state that President Bush lost Osama bin Laden and that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq spurred terrorist activities and anti-American sentiment worldwide.

These are the themes that her husband hit on during the debate last week with President Bush.

“Don’t confuse [terrorism] with Iraq — Iraq was not a bed of terrorism. Today, it is,” said Mrs. Kerry, wife of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, at the Westmoreland County Democratic Committee dinner on Sunday night. “Don’t let anyone tell you that. It is not true.”

Mrs. Kerry said bin Laden, the mastermind of the September 11 attacks, is still directing terrorism because the administration’s poor military planning let him escape from Afghanistan and that there are now 60 countries with 18,000 “hard-core” and “fully trained” terrorists.

“Terrorism and Osama bin Laden started together at 9/11. On 9/12, every single country and newspaper in the world said, ‘We are all Americans.’ Today, it is not the case,” she said. (Actually, this was the headline only in Le Monde, the Paris daily.)

Several persons in the crowd of 600 were disappointed that Mrs. Kerry was somber in her speech, which also touched on her husband’s health care plan, and expected her to deliver one of the “zingers” for which she has become famous.

Mrs. Kerry speech resembled her husband’s stump speech, and its inclusion of accusations that the Bush administration had bin Laden encircled and missed a chance to catch him came two days after Secretary of State Colin L. Powell called such statements a “stretch.”

“I think it’s a stretch to say that [bin Laden] was there, and they knew it at the time the battle was going on,” Mr. Powell told Reuters news agency after a speech at the Atlanta Press Club.

The Democrats gave Mrs. Kerry rousing applause and stuck around after the event for more than an hour to greet her in a rope line.

Republicans gathered to protest the dinner earlier in the evening with signs reading, “This is Bush country” and “Bush-Cheney ‘04.”

“This is our back yard, and we want people to know who we stand for,” said Billie Jo Crouse, a 35-year-old teacher who protested outside the event.

Mrs. Kerry told the Democratic diners that Mr. Bush used $700 million from funds for the Afghan war to start the war in Iraq. She said that only the Afghan capital, Kabul, is secure; that the Taliban is “back running Afghanistan” and that the opium trade there is “higher than it ever, ever was.”

Mrs. Kerry spoke several times about her late husband, Sen. John Heinz III, a popular Pennsylvania Republican who was killed in a plane crash in 1991, and did not mention Mr. Kerry by name until about 20 minutes into her speech.

She spoke in detail about Mr. Kerry’s plan for health care and declared that the American dream is on the ballot.

“When it is his turn, he will present the face of America to the world that is proud but not arrogant, generous but not condescending, that is strong but not threatening. That’s the kind of America he wants to lead.”

Calling health care costs “catastrophic,” Mrs. Kerry outlined a plan that would give “every child in America” health care and reduce premiums by $1,000 if her husband is elected.

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