- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 6, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The following are excerpts from last night’s vice-presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland:

Vice President Dick Cheney: What we did in Iraq was exactly the right thing to do. If I had it to recommend all over again, I would recommend exactly the same course of action. The world is far safer today because Saddam Hussein is in jail; his government is no longer in power. And we did exactly the right thing. …

Sen. John Edwards: We went into Afghanistan and very quickly the administration made a decision to divert attention from that and instead began to plan for the invasion of Iraq. And these connections — I want the American people to hear this very clearly … because there is no connection between Saddam Hussein and the attacks of September 11th — period. … But the vice president keeps suggesting that there is. There is not. …

Mr. Cheney: The senator has got his facts wrong. I have not suggested there’s a connection between Iraq and 9/11, but there’s clearly an established Iraqi track record with terror. And the point is that that’s the place where you’re most likely to see the terrorists come together with weapons of mass destruction, the deadly technologies that Saddam Hussein had developed and used over the years. …

A little tough talk in the midst of a campaign or as part of a presidential debate cannot obscure a record of 30 years of being on the wrong side of defense issues. …

Mr. Edwards: What John Kerry said — and it’s just as clear as day to anybody who was listening — he said: ‘We will find terrorists where they are and kill them before they ever do harm to the American people, first.’ We will keep this country safe. … He also said very clearly that he will never give any country veto power over the security of the United States of America. Now, I know the vice president would like to pretend that wasn’t said, and the president would, too. But the reality is it was said. …

Mr. Edwards: What [Mr. Kerry is] saying [by referring in Thursday’s presidential debate to a “global test”] is we’re going to go back to the proud tradition of the United States of America and presidents of the United States of America for the last 50 to 75 years. First, we’re going to actually tell the American people the truth. … We’re not going to suggest to them that things are going well in Iraq or anyplace else when, in fact, they’re not. We’re going to make sure that the American people know the truth about why we are using force and what the explanation for it is. And it’s not just the American people. We’re also going to make sure that we tell the world the truth.

Because the reality is, for America to lead, for America to do what it’s done for 50 years before this president and vice president came into office, it is critical that we be credible. …

You know, we’ve taken 90 percent of the coalition causalities. American taxpayers have borne 90 percent of the costs of the effort in Iraq. … The first Gulf war cost America $5 billion. We’re at $200 billion and counting. …

Mr. Cheney: Well … the 90 percent figure is just dead wrong. When you include the Iraqi security forces that have suffered casualties, as well as the allies, they’ve taken almost 50 percent of the casualties in operations in Iraq, which leaves the U.S. with 50 percent, not 90 percent.

With respect to the cost, it wasn’t $200 billion. You probably weren’t there to vote for that. But $120 billion is, in fact, what has been allocated to Iraq. The rest of it’s for Afghanistan and the global war on terror.

The allies have stepped forward and agreed to reduce and forgive Iraqi debt to the tune of nearly $80 billion by one estimate. That, plus $14 billion they promised in terms of direct aid, puts the overall allied contribution financially at about $95 billion … better than 40 percent. So your facts are just wrong, senator.

You also have a situation where you talk about credibility. It’s awfully hard to convey a sense of credibility to allies when you voted for the war and then you declared: ‘Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time.’ You voted for the war, and then you voted against supporting the troops when they needed the equipment, the fuel, the spare parts and the ammunition and the body armor.

You’re not credible on Iraq because of the enormous inconsistencies that John Kerry and you have cited time after time after time during the course of the campaign. Whatever the political pressures of the moment requires, that’s where you’re at. But you’ve not been consistent, and there’s no indication at all that John Kerry has the conviction to successfully carry through on the war on terror. …

Mr. Edwards: What the vice president has just said is just a complete distortion. The American people saw John Kerry on Thursday night. They don’t need the vice president or the president to tell them what they saw. …

He laid out his plan for success in Iraq, made it clear that we were committed to success in Iraq. We have to be, because we have troops on the ground there and because they have created a haven for terrorists.

Mr. Cheney: Your rhetoric, senator, would be a lot more credible if there was a record to back it up. There isn’t.

And you cannot use tough talk during the course of a 90-minute debate in a presidential campaign to obscure a 30-year record in the United States Senate, and prior to that, by John Kerry, who has consistently come down on the wrong side of all the major defense issues that he’s faced as a public official.

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