Bush ‘living in fantasy world’ on Iraq, Kerry tells National Guard convention
September 16, 2004
LAS VEGAS (AP) – President Bush is “living in a fantasy world of spin,” failing to tell U.S. troops or the American people the truth about the situation in Iraq, Democratic challenger John Kerry told National Guard veterans Thursday.
Two days after Bush addressed the same group, Kerry said of the president, “I believe he failed the fundamental test of leadership” by failing to level with the veterans.
“The president stood right where I’m standing and did not even acknowledge that more than 1,000 men and women have lost their lives in Iraq. He did not tell you that with each passing day we’re seeing more chaos, more violence, more indiscriminate killings,” Kerry said in remarks prepared for delivery to the National Guard Association of the United States.
“You deserve a president who will not play politics with national security, who will not ignore his own intelligence while living in a fantasy world of spin, and who will give the American people the truth about the challenge our brave men and women face on the front lines,” the Democratic senator said.
Bush had told the group that Kerry has repeatedly changed and waffled on his own position on the Iraq war.
The president said Thursday that Kerry’s approach has sent “the wrong signals” to America’s troops, allies and enemies.
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“The fellow I’m running against has had about eight positions on Iraq,” Bush said while campaigning in Minnesota.
Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee said it was showing a private group’s anti-Kerry Iraq presentation on its Web site to coincide with Kerry’s speech to the Guard.
Bush holds a commanding lead over Kerry among veterans and their families. A recent AP-Ipsos poll said the president was the choice of 58 percent and Kerry 38 percent.
Kerry told the Guard convention, “True leadership is about looking people in the eye and telling the truth, even when it’s hard to hear.” And he said Bush had not done that.
“He did not tell you that with each passing week our enemies are getting bolder, that Pentagon officials report that entire regions of Iraq are now in hands of terrorists and extremists. He did not tell you that with each passing month stability and security seem further and further away.”
Bush, in his remarks to the Guard, had said he was the one leveling with the nation.
“What’s critical is that the president of the United States speak clearly and consistently at this time of great threat in our world and not change positions because of expediency or pressure,” Bush had said.
Bush, whose National Guard service has been called into question in the campaign, told the veterans he was proud to have served but did not mention the controversy.
Kerry served in the Navy in Vietnam and received medals for heroic action. Some of those awards also have been questioned in the campaign.