BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Vice President Dick Cheney on Monday accused his Democratic opponents of "trying to rewrite history for their own political purposes" when they criticize the Bush administration for going to war based on flawed prewar intelligence.
Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards, the presumed Democratic presidential ticket, reviewed the same reports on Iraq that were given to President Bush and supported the decision to go to war, Cheney said.
"Now it seems they've both developed a convenient case of campaign amnesia," the vice president said during a fund-raiser in Bethlehem, one stop on a daylong campaign swing through Pennsylvania. "If the president was right, and he was, then they are simply trying to rewrite history for their own political purposes."
A Senate Intelligence Committee report concluded that the CIA provided unfounded assessments of the threat posed by Iraq with weapons of mass destruction.
Responding directly to Cheney's criticism, Kerry campaign spokesman Chad Clanton said Bush and Cheney "are the ones with amnesia. It's as if they've forgotten that their go-it-alone foreign policy has made America bear the overwhelming share of casualties and costs in Iraq."
In Boston, Kerry said he and Edwards were proud of the fact that they opposed the $87 billion aid package for Afghanistan and Iraq "when we knew the policy had to be changed."
"We had to get it right," Kerry said. "We needed other countries involved. We needed to reach out to our allies. We needed to put other boots on the ground. The job of the president is to have the maximum ability for success and the minimum risk and cost to the American people."
That comment led Steve Schmidt, the spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign, to accuse Kerry of being reckless and irresponsible.
"John Kerry's reckless claim to be 'proud' of opposing funds to support the troops is in direct contradiction to his own earlier statement that such a vote would be 'irresponsible,"' Schmidt said in a statement. "He voted to send forces into harm's way and then wrongly voted against critical funding for American troops in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Following the Senate panel's report critical of prewar intelligence, Kerry and Edwards called the CIA's work slipshod but declined to answer a hypothetical question of whether they would have voted against the congressional resolution authorizing force based on what they know now. They made the comment in an interview with The New York Times.
The $500-per-plate breakfast attended Monday by Cheney in Bethlehem raised about $200,000 for the congressional campaign of Charles W. Dent. The vice president attended a similar event for attorney Scott Paterno, son of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, later in the day in Harrisburg, raising another $100,000, Paterno's campaign manager said. Attendees could also pay $2,000 for a photograph with Cheney.
Cheney finished the day at a $1,000-per-plate fund-raiser in Pittsburgh for the Republican National Committee's Victory 2004 fund, which helps Republicans up and down the ticket. The event raised more than $250,000, organizers said.
Bush and Cheney have paid particularly close attention to Pennsylvania, making dozens of trips to the nation's fifth-largest electoral prize in the Nov. 2 election.
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