- The Washington Times - Friday, September 17, 2004

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — President Bush yesterday ridiculed Sen. John Kerry for further muddling his position on Iraq during a radio interview, which bewildered even host Don Imus, an avowed Kerry supporter.

“The radio interviewer concluded: ‘I can’t tell you what he said,’” Mr. Bush told a rally here, drawing laughter and hoots of derision.

The president then said: “Let me be clear: Mixed signals are the wrong signals to send to our troops in the field, the Iraqi people, to our allies, and most of all to our enemies.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Imus asked Mr. Kerry: “Do you think there are any circumstances we should have gone to war in Iraq, any?”

“Not under the current circumstances, no, there are none that I see,” the Massachusetts Democrat replied.

But earlier in the interview, Mr. Imus pointed out that Mr. Kerry voted for a congressional resolution in October 2002 that authorized the president to use military force against Iraq. Last month, the senator said he still would have voted for the resolution, even knowing all of the problems of postwar Iraq.

The contradiction “doesn’t make any sense to me,” Mr. Imus told Mr. Kerry.

“Yes, it actually does make sense,” Mr. Kerry replied. “Let me explain it to you.”

He then described the war resolution as a “threat” designed to persuade Saddam Hussein to accept weapons inspectors.

“You needed that threat to be able to make certain you had the inspectors and were going through a process to hold him accountable,” Mr. Kerry said.

The explanation was mocked by the president, who said Mr. Kerry has taken “about eight positions on Iraq” during the course of the presidential campaign.

“And so yesterday, in a radio interview, he tried to clear things up,” Mr. Bush said. “He said there were no circumstances, none under which we should have gone to war.

“Although, he said his own vote to go to war was the right vote, and it was right to hold Saddam Hussein accountable,” he added.

Kerry campaign spokesman Phil Singer tried to turn the flap against the president.

“George Bush is attempting to justify why he rushed to war without a plan, but it’s time for him to start explaining what he’s doing to stabilize the situation on the ground in Iraq,” he said. “His wrong Iraq policies have taken America in the wrong direction, and it’s time for him to come clean with the public about what’s going on.”

But the president continued skewering Mr. Kerry for his various positions on Iraq.

“For the war but wouldn’t provide the funding,” Mr. Bush recalled. “Then he was the anti-war candidate. Then he said, ‘Knowing everything we know today, I’d have done the same thing.’

“Then he said, ‘Well, we’re spending too much money,’” he added. “That’s after he said we weren’t spending enough money.”

The president also accused Mr. Kerry of planning “massive” expenditures to put “the government in control of health care.”

“The nationalization of health care would be wrong for the American citizen,” he told an audience in Blaine, Minn.

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