- The Washington Times - Friday, September 10, 2004

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — President Bush yesterday hammered Sen. John Kerry for complaining about the cost of the Iraq war, calling it yet another flip-flop by a man who once demanded an increase in funding for Iraq.

“When it comes to Iraq, my opponent has more different positions than all his colleagues in the Senate combined,” Mr. Bush said, prompting laughter at a rally here.

“The newest wrinkle is that Senator Kerry has now decided we are spending too much money in Iraq, even though he criticized us earlier for not spending enough.

“One thing about Senator Kerry’s position is clear,” he added. “If he had his way, Saddam Hussein would still be in power and would still be a threat to the security and to the world.”

The remarks came at the outset of a bus tour that took Mr. Bush from West Virginia across southern Ohio. At each stop, he emphasized themes that appealed to this conservative region, like gun ownership and traditional marriage.

The president also kept up his offensive against Mr. Kerry by reminding voters of his shifting positions on funding U.S. forces in Iraq.

“It was right here in Huntington, West Virginia, where he said: ‘I voted for the $87 billion right before I voted against it,’” Mr. Bush reminded the rally. “Right here in Huntington.

“They kept pressing him after that, and he said, well, he was proud of his vote. And finally he just said the whole thing was a ‘complicated’ matter.”

“There’s nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat,” he added in what has become one his most reliable applause lines on the stump.

The president was unusually expansive about how he envisions his legacy, a topic he usually avoids. He talked at length about how he would like Americans to remember him 50 years from now.

“I’d like the reputation to be: He came and solved problems and didn’t pass them on to future presidents or future generations,” Mr. Bush said, speaking in the third person. “He realized he was fortunate to be the president of a mighty country and therefore set big goals, not only for our own country, but for the world.”

He added: “And I would hope that after my time as the president — eight years of it — people would say: George Bush didn’t waver in his beliefs.”

In both West Virginia and Ohio, the president lambasted Mr. Kerry’s plan to raise taxes and increase spending if elected. He said that would cripple the economic expansion.

Kerry campaign spokesman Phil Singer cited an article by an investment firm that he said “effectively nullifies the Bush charge [that] Kerry spends $2 trillion and will raise your taxes.”

“Goldman Sachs — the most credible investment bank for economic analysis — released a great piece today on how Kerry is more fiscally responsible than Bush,” Mr. Singer said.

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