- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 21, 2004

DERRY, N.H. — President Bush yesterday ridiculed his Democratic opponent’s latest position on the war in Iraq, saying “43 days before the election, my opponent has now settled on a proposal for what to do next — and it’s exactly what we’re currently doing.”

Sen. John Kerry, delivering a speech in New York one day before the president addresses the U.N. General Assembly there, offered a four-point plan that includes soliciting help from other nations, training Iraqi security forces and ensuring elections can be held next year as promised.

Mr. Bush said the Massachusetts senator’s latest version of his stance on the war in Iraq is another example of his equivocation.

“Today, my opponent continued his pattern of twisting in the wind. He apparently woke up this morning and has now decided, no, we should not have invaded Iraq, after just last month saying he would have voted for force even knowing everything we know today.

“Incredibly, he now believes our national security would be stronger with Saddam Hussein in power and not in prison,” Mr. Bush said. “He’s saying he prefers the stability of a dictatorship to the hope and security of democracy. I couldn’t disagree more, and not so long ago, so did my opponent.”

Responding point by point to Mr. Kerry’s new plan, Mr. Bush said, “We’re working with the international partners, we’re training Iraqi troops, we’re reconstructing the country, we’re preparing for elections.”

The Kerry campaign fired back almost immediately, with spokesman Joe Lockhart saying Mr. Bush with taking Mr. Kerry’s words out of context.

“Once again, George Bush just can’t tell the truth about Iraq. John Kerry was talking about the difference between Saddam Hussein being free in Iraq to direct insurgency operations against our troops versus being captured,” Mr. Lockhart said.

“John Kerry made clear today we can’t change the reality of Iraq until we have a president who’s willing to face the reality of Iraq.”

Mr. Bush, who left after his speech and a question-and-answer session for New York, where he will address the U.N. General Assembly today, also criticized the world body’s 15-member Security Council for failing to follow through on 17 resolutions over 11 years calling on Saddam to disarm or face the consequences.

“I was hoping that diplomacy would work. … And I stood up there and I laid out the case, and they looked at the intelligence, and they voted 15-to-nothing to say to Saddam Hussein, disclose, disarm or face serious consequences. I believe when international bodies say something, for the sake of peace, they must mean what they say,” Mr. Bush said.

The president was criticized for failing to win unanimous world support before invading Iraq, but Mr. Bush said that, given the same choice today with the same intelligence, he still would have made the difficult decision to go to war.

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