Kerry Assails Bush on Iraq
Racicot, for instance, told reporters that Kerry suggested that 150,000 or so U.S. troops are "somehow universally responsible" for the misdeeds of a small number of American soldiers and contractors. Racicot made several variations of this charge. But Kerry never said this, or anything like it.
As evidence, Racicot pointed to the following quote Kerry made at a fundraiser on Tuesday: "What has happened is not just something that a few a privates or corporals or sergeants engaged in. This is something that comes out of an attitude about the rights of prisoners of war, it's an attitude that comes out of America's overall arrogance in its policy that is alienating countries all around the world."
What Racicot did not mention was that Kerry preceded this remark by saying, "I know that what happened over there is not the behavior of 99.9 percent of our troops."
Kerry has spent the week talking about health care, but as he has focused on domestic issues other Democrats have rushed in to help shape the Iraq debate -- and often taking it in a direction different from Kerry's. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), a top Kerry supporter who opposed the war, criticized the administration so harshly this week that Kerry distanced himself from the remarks.
"On March 19, 2004, President Bush asked, 'Who would prefer that Saddam's torture chambers still be open?' " Kennedy said. "Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management: U.S. management."
Kerry told Imus: "He's my friend and I respect him, but I don't agree with the framing of that."
As Kerry continued his campaign swing, his advisers were making the case that Bush's $70 million ad campaign had failed to knock Kerry out of the race and that, compared with Al Gore four years ago, the Massachusetts senator is in solid shape to compete with Bush in the fall.
Armed with a series of slides showing current and past polling data nationally and in battleground states, Kerry's top advisers told editors and reporters at The Washington Post that the Bush campaign had mistakenly assumed a huge financial advantage at the beginning of March would allow it to dictate the terms of the race and shape perceptions of Kerry. Instead, they said, Kerry and Bush continue to run roughly even in national polls.
Cahill said the campaign decided at the end of the primaries, when Bush had $110 million in the bank and Kerry had barely $2 million, to spend March and April fundraising, and that the payoff was $43 million raised in March and an estimated $25 million or more in April. "We decided to step back and try to level the playing field financially," she said.
Staff writer Dan Balz in Washington contributed to this report.
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