Friday, May 7, 2004

As Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld answered questions yesterday about abuse in an Iraqi prison run by the U.S. military, John Kerry’s presidential campaign sent out a mass e-mail calling for Mr. Rumsfeld’s resignation and asking for donations.

“Keep the ball rolling,” wrote campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill. “Donate now!”

“Over the past week we have all been shocked by the pictures from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq,” wrote Ms. Cahill. “John Kerry has called on Donald Rumsfeld to resign, and today we’re asking you to support him by adding your name to the call for Rumsfeld to resign.”

In addition to allowing recipients to sign a petition demanding that Mr. Rumsfeld resign, the e-mail also permitted recipients to donate cash online.

Asked if the campaign was concerned about linking fund raising to the prisoner-abuse scandal, spokesman Chad Clanton initially said there was no mention of raising money in the e-mail.

After he was sent a copy of the e-mail with the fund-raising pitch, Mr. Clanton replied: “John Kerry has made it clear that our men and women in uniform deserve a Commander in Chief that takes responsibility for the bad as well as the good. The bottom line is: We need more than just a new Secretary of Defense. We need a new president.”

Mr. Kerry also spoke about the abuse case in a speech yesterday before the Democratic Leadership Council.

“The chain of command goes all the way to the Oval Office,” said Mr. Kerry. “America does not merely need a new secretary of defense. We need a new president.”

In his speech in Arizona, Mr. Kerry also used the Iraqi prisoner-abuse scandal to harken to another common theme in his presidential campaign: As president, he would be a better ambassador to the world’s foreign leaders.

“When I am president, I will demand accountability from those who serve, and I will take responsibility for their actions,” Mr. Kerry said.

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