PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN Cheney raps Kerry's call for 'sensitive' war
John Kerry pointed out that he defended his country.
DAYTON (AP) -- On Thursday, Vice President Dick Cheney questioned Sen. John Kerry's call for a "more sensitive" war on terror, saying it won't impress the Sept. 11 terrorists or the Islamic militants who have beheaded U.S. citizens -- criticism Kerry dismissed as negative politics.
"America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive," Cheney told supporters in this swing state that offers 20 electoral votes and typically goes with the presidential winner. "Those who threaten us and kill innocents around the world do not need to be treated more sensitively. They need to be destroyed."
What Kerry said
Cheney was referring to Kerry's statement last week at a minority journalists' convention, where he said: "I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side and lives up to American values in history."
Kerry, speaking Thursday to thousands of supporters at a rally in Medford, Ore., said: "I defended our country as a young man when others chose not to, and I will defend it as president of the United States. I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary with the right, legitimate intelligence with swiftness and certainty."
Cheney told the audience that included many veterans that none of the country's military heroes would follow Kerry's advice.
"President Lincoln and Gen. Grant did not wage sensitive wars. Nor did President Roosevelt or Gens. Eisenhower and MacArthur," he said. "As our opponents see it, the problem isn't the thugs and murderers that we face, but our attitude. We, the American people, know better."
Cheney challenged the Democrat, and the invitation-only crowd of supporters responded enthusiastically.
"A sensitive war will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans. ... The men who beheaded Daniel Pearl and Paul Johnson will not be impressed by our sensitivity," he said.
Raps his record
Cheney also criticized Kerry's record on the Senate Intelligence Committee, saying he missed most of the panel's public hearings and proposed cutting the intelligence budget. The Kerry campaign has noted that the cuts in intelligence came as the Cold War was ending.
The Kerry campaign argued that Kerry's use of the word sensitive referred to outreach to allies -- a word Bush used in March 2001. And it responded to the criticism by pointing out that while Kerry was a decorated Vietnam War veteran, Bush served stateside with the Texas Air National Guard and Cheney received five deferments.
The latest poll shows a tight race in Ohio, a state no Republican has been elected president without winning. Bush has visited 20 times as president; Kerry has made 12 visits this year.